Addiction is often used in the context of drug abuse. However, Alter’s book shows the deep relationship between behavioral addiction and substance addiction. According to him the brain acts on a cost-benefit analysis. If the rewards outweigh the cost then the brain tends to repeat this behavior leading to a habit. People have been viewing Addiction as a result that drugs can only cause. Scientists have recently discovered that technology is also addictive. Their studies have been able to relate Addiction to drugs with Addiction on the internet. Facebook users, for instance, face symptoms similar to what drug abusers feel if they are prevented from using the social Platform. Adam Alter, in his book, describes people’s Addiction to the Internet, video games, and other services provided by Smartphones. Facebook contains many users, with the majority of them being young. The users are, however, at risk of developing psychological problems. The Platform is designed to provide comfort and security, which act as a reward for behavior. The continuous urge to use the Platform is what forms a habit (Alter: 27). Users of the Platform use it to escape a hard reality, which only worsens. People who are not social make friends via the Platform, making them dependent on it. The continuous use of the Platform results in reduced productivity for other activities. Students become unable to focus on their studies due to distractions. People can also not concentrate on their works as they are consistently distracted by their phone habits. Facebook addiction relates closely with substance addiction. Both have steps that lead to Addiction and similar outcomes and effects.
Internet addiction has been increasing for the last decade. Platforms such as Facebook are designed to induce Addiction, and their use leads to the formation of habits that have long-term effects. Facebook is among the technologies that are highly addictive. The Facebook addiction process happens gradually before the impacts are noticed. However, there are ways of stopping Facebook addiction using several behavioral approaches.
Behavioral addiction works following these critical ingredients. The first ingredient is unattainable goals. The other ingredients include; Positive feedback that is hard to resist, a feeling of improvement or achievement, tasks that become more difficult to achieve, tensions that require solutions, and the ability for social connections. Facebook provides these three ingredients which cause addiction for the users. Facebook addiction is excessive use of the social Platform to the point of disrupting an individual’s daily routines. Facebook users have a problem concentrating on an activity without constantly logging on to the Platform. Many people spend more than several hours on the Platform, especially at night. “In 2008, adults spent an average of eighteen minutes on their phones per day; in 2015, they were spending two hours and forty-eight minutes per day” (Alter). This interrupts their sleep system, which in return reduces their overall performance. There are several forms of Addiction that the Platform can cause for the users. Cyber sexual Addiction is one of the forms of Addiction that affect Facebook users. These users use the Platform to send, receive, or share adult content via the platform chat rooms. Information overload is also another addiction form that affects people on Facebook. The Platform contains numerous amounts of data that people can surf through. Over-reliance on this Platform for information creates a habit that is harder to break. The other group of Facebook addiction contains cyber relationship addicts who depend on the Platform for intimacy. All these forms of dependencies on Facebook cause Addiction. The formation of goals one after the other is also known as the goal culture. This is a concept similar to perfectionism. The current technology offers goals which in accomplishing lead to the formation of habits. Getting likes for a picture in Facebook is a goal that becomes a habit with time (Alter: 76). Facebook is designed to meet all the users’ requirements effectively. The social Platform’s attractive design enables it to attract more visits by its users in a day. Many people spend their time on Facebook because the site provides an experience they miss in real life. As a socialization platform, users can make friends and even form relationships (Alter: 79). This might seem like a good thing, but recent studies have shown that Facebook also poses the Risk of Addiction. Addiction can be described as dependence on a service or substance without control. It is the constant physiologic or psychological reliance on any substance or service such as Facebook. Facebook users fit in the description because they often lack control over their urge to frequently go through the Platform.
The images above show the emphasis that Facebook puts in convincing their users to interact with each other. The first image shows an app feature that allows people connect with new users. The second picture shows every person holding their phone while accessing Facebook. These features and others continue to attract more daily users for the Facebook application. Facebook excessive use falls under behavioral Addiction. To guarantee that users continue using Facebook, there is a progress tactic that these technologies use. The first step is to offer users a chance to join the Facebook with no barriers. The second step is to offer early rewards. When a new user joins Facebook, the process is fast and very easy. The platform then suggests friends and communities that the new user can join. This assistance in the first stage is used as a reward for the new users. The constant use of Facebook is addictive and it also prevents users from having a social life. It also reduces the productivity of the platform users as they are often distracted (Alter: 143). The main concern regarding Facebook addiction is the rapid increase in the number of people facing this challenge. Facebook addiction is a process that can be broken down into three stages. The first stage in Addiction is engagement. This happens when new users start interacting and exploring Facebook’s features. The second stage involves substituting Facebook for other activities. Users stop following their daily routines due to constant Facebook use. The third stage involves the total escape of the physical into the virtual world. At this point, Facebook users form online relationships and bonds with their online friends. They also use the Platform to escape their feelings which makes stopping the habit even more difficult (Backs.34). There are several signs that can be used t determine if a person is addicted to Facebook use. The first indication for Addiction is tolerance. The others include withdrawal symptoms, cases of virtual friends, and reduced physical activities.
The more a person takes part in a habit, the more likely they will become obsessed. If an individual takes part in an activity or behavior without stopping, it is called a streak. Breaking these patterns is difficult as this grows to form an addiction. Tolerance can be termed as a behavior of Facebook addicts. At this stage, Facebook users are unable to limit the time they spend on the Platform. They increase the amount of time they spend on Facebook to increase the satisfaction they feel afterward. The problem arises because the more time they spend on the Platform, the less satisfaction they get. At this point, it becomes crucial for them to replace their social activities with time on Facebook (Alter. 117). They also reduce exercise time to accommodate more Facebook time on their daily schedules. Many Facebook users are also setting updates online. These virtual interactions prevent the ability to grow socially. It also makes the addicts fear physical interactions as they are harder compared to building relationships online. Facebook users have many friends who are strangers to them. Interruption of sleep patterns is another symptom of Addiction to Facebook. There are many side effects that come with lack of sleep for the addicts. Facebook addiction has serious impacts on the health and lives of many young people. The Zeigarnik effect describes how unsolved tasks stay longer in our memories. A psychologist by the name Zeigarnik performed an experiment that concluded that when we start a task we develop a quasi-need for completing the task. If the task is not completed, then the urge remains in our memory for a longer period. Facebook uses this concept to create addiction. Users are never satisfied with the likes they get or the number of friends they acquire, as they can also get more. Facebook has many effects on the people who make its use a habit. There are many psychological challenges that might arise with excessive Facebook use. Depression is one of the main effects that continue to harm Facebook addicts. Constant use of Facebook has been the cause of people involving themselves with other destructive behaviors such as abuse of drugs. People who fail to accomplish their goals due to excessive Facebook use often get anxiety and depression as a result. Teenagers are also making virtual connections that expose them to sexual activities at a tender age. There are people who get stressed if they are prevented from using Facebook at work or school. Their dependence on the Platform to have a perfect experience makes them form destructive habits (Backs. 93). Another challenge is Cyberbullying which is at high prevalence in the Facebook platform. There are many people who spread hate and attack other people’s insecurity online. Cyberbullying is another issue that leads to depression and stress for the affected people. Sexting is another challenge associated with Facebook use. This involves the exchange of sexual messages and other content via the Facebook platform.
It is nearly impossible to erase the content from the internet. It is also challenging to maintain privacy for information shared on Facebook. There are many scenarios of people who have suffered from exposure to their confidential life. It is also likely for a conflict to sire between Facebook users. Facebook has also been affecting the performance of students at school. They spend more time online messaging their Facebook friends disrupting their study and sleep patterns. Facebook users also tend to be narcissistic as they only care about their phones. They are not mindful of their environment as Facebook provides them with a community to interact with. Spending more time on the devices that facilitate Facebook use is harmful to human eyesight. Many hours on the phone or computer using Facebook can also lead to eyesight problems. Controlling Facebook addiction is not impossible. It requires the replacement of Facebook uses with another positive habit. Trying to quit using Facebook without starting another habit is difficult and even nearly impossible. People addicted to Facebook use can be able to change things around. The start of new hobbies and behavior can help in eliminating dependence on Facebook. It is also important to stop viewing notifications regarding Facebook all the time. Reducing the time spent on the Platform, changing the use patterns, and starting new activities can help stop the Addiction gradually (Alter. 162). It is also important to start forming physical connections with people rather than depending on Facebook friends to connect with people. Individuals who want to control their Facebook use ban first withdraw from using it for a period of time. They can then define straight boundaries that will govern their Facebook use to avoid making a habit out of it.
Facebook offers social interaction for its users. This technique attracts more people as it is easy to socialize online than physically. The platforms follow the “bad is stronger than good” concept. The concept means that people are not likely to appreciate negative feedback about them. Therefore, users ignore any negative comments or feedback since they are only interested on the positive comments. The ability for Facebook to offer this thrill assists in getting more users for the company. Facebook has been causing Addiction for its users. This is because the Platform is designed to offer solutions for challenges in the physical world. The continuous use of Facebook has made many people develop behavioral Addiction. They depend on the Platform to form bonds with virtual people. This becomes a challenge as it prevents Facebook users from having a social life. They are always alone talking to strangers that are virtual friends on their Facebook profiles. The Platform forms the habit of experiencing a feeling of satisfaction for using the Platform. People with poor socialization skills can easily make friends on Facebook, which only worsens their problems. People with insecurities run from their problems by building perfect virtual lives through Facebook. Facebook use contains all the attributes that match substance abuse on a behavioral level. People used to Facebook have a hard time putting the activity to an end. They face withdrawal symptoms that might even result in depression. Facebook continues to be a good platform for Socialization, but users should be aware of its addictive tendencies.
Alter, Adam. Irresistible: The rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked. Penguin, 2017.
Backs, Steven M. “Power of Habit: Why We do What We do in Life and Business.” (2013): 124-125.