Heavy Face­book use ‘like drug abuse’

Cape Argus - - LIFE -

EX­CES­SIVE use of so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Face­book can make its users take de­ci­sions as bad as drug ad­dicts tend to do, a new study sug­gests.

“Around one-third of hu­mans on the planet are us­ing so­cial me­dia, and some are dis­play­ing mal­adap­tive, ex­ces­sive use of these sites,” said lead au­thor of the study Dar Meshi, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Michi­gan State Univer­sity in the US.

“I be­lieve that so­cial me­dia has tremen­dous ben­e­fits for in­di­vid­u­als, but there’s also a dark side when peo­ple can’t pull them­selves away.

“We need to bet­ter un­der­stand this drive so we can de­ter­mine if ex­ces­sive so­cial me­dia use should be con­sid­ered an ad­dic­tion,” Meshi added.

For the study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Be­hav­iour Ad­dic­tions, the re­searchers had 71 par­tic­i­pants take a sur­vey that mea­sured their psy­cho­log­i­cal de­pen­dence on Face­book, sim­i­lar to ad­dic­tion.

Ques­tions on the sur­vey asked about users’ pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the plat­form, their feel­ings when un­able to use it, at­tempts to quit and the im­pact that Face­book has had on their job or stud­ies.

The re­searchers then had the par­tic­i­pants do the Iowa Gam­bling Task, a com­mon ex­er­cise used by psy­chol­o­gists to mea­sure de­ci­sion­mak­ing. To suc­cess­fully com­plete the task, users iden­tify out­come pat­terns in decks of cards to choose the best pos­si­ble deck. Meshi and his col­leagues found that by the end of the gam­bling task, the worse peo­ple per­formed by choos­ing from bad decks, the more ex­ces­sive their so­cial me­dia use.

The bet­ter they did in the task, the less their so­cial me­dia use. Peo­ple who abuse opi­oids, co­caine, metham­phetamine and other drugs have sim­i­lar out­comes on the Iowa Gam­bling Task, thus show­ing the same de­fi­ciency in de­ci­sion-mak­ing, the study said.

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