I was recently invited by a Communications Arts class of De La Salle University to talk about the ill effects of Facebook among the youth. “Ill effects among the youth?”, I asked.
I have studied the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of Facebook in the workplace. We always see its good side because most of us are active users. But the dark side in the work place is apparently the decline of productivity based on a number of studies.
But understanding the ill effects among the youth struck me because I have two teenage daughters who spend hours in the veritable social network site; and I oftentimes ask them to stop and instead concentrate on studying. So this topic interested me as I wanted to understand its potential ill effects to my kids.
Surveying Facebook users
To put some credence in the talk, I asked the student organizers and my daughter to help me to conduct an exploratory study through a survey among high school and college students. I based the questionnaire on the findings in the collection of research studies called “The Facebook Project”.
We got fifty respondents from age 16 to 20, and a mix of boys and girls. Not surprisingly, 60 percent of the youngsters spend an hour daily. But interestingly, more than 60 percent have 500 or more “friends”. This correlation between the time spent on Facebook and the number of “friends” may lead to a vicious cycle – that the more time a youngster spends on Facebook, the more “friends” he or she accumulates; and the more “friends he or she accumulates, the more time is spent on the site.
Another marked finding is the 60 percent of the respondents agreed that they “feel good” when a “friend” leaves a comment on their Facebook status. This may be a natural response as seeing “friends” comment on your status may be a sign of social acceptance.
The trouble with “feeling good”
But what’s worrying is the possible bad effect of “feeling good”. It’s been established in several studies that excessively “feeling good” about something leads to addition, like in drugs or alcohol. In fact, US psychologists say that excessive use of Facebook leads to a condition called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD). Dr. Michael Fenichel, who has published numerous writings on FAD, describes it as a situation in which Facebook usage “overtakes” daily activities like waking up, getting dressed, using the telephone, or checking e-mail.
There are an estimated 350 million around the world who have admitted to being addicted and more than 500 groups for “addicts” have been created on Facebook, where members laugh about their dependence on the site.
According to Joanna Lipari, a clinical psychologist at the UCLA who was interviewed by CNN, some of the signs that one is addicted to Facebook include the following:
1. Losing sleep over Facebook When using Facebook becomes a compulsion and you spend entire nights logged on to the site, causing you to become tired the next day.
2. Spending more than an hour a day on Facebook. The average person needs to spend only half an hour on the site, according to Lipari. This is below the one-hour daily usage of the youngsters we surveyed.
4. Ignoring work or studies in favor of Facebook.
5. On the extreme side, being stressed and anxious when one doesn’t log into Facebook in a day. This means one already needs help.
With the potential bad effects of FAD, many companies and even universities in the US have limited the access to Facebook Many companies locally have restricted access to the social networking site due to its potential effect of productivity. Likewise, schools should be restricting its use within the premises.
But despite its potentially destructive effect, Facebook is still a great way of connecting and maintaining relationships with friends. But like most activities, moderation and controlled use are key. Parents should intervene if they see their kids are getting “addicted” to Facebook.
Reynaldo C. Lugtu Jr. teaches strategy, management and marketing courses in the MBA Program of De La Salle University, Graduate School of Business. He may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his blog at http://rlugtu.blogspot.com.
Labels: social networking