Why you might really, actually be addicted to Facebook

Turns out Facebook is a lot more "pleasurable" than we think. Find out if you're addicted to the social network using the Bergen Scale.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content, CNET Studios
As the Vice President of CNET Studios, Sharon leads the video, social, editorial design, and branded content teams. Before this role, Sharon led content development and launched new verticals for CNET, including Wellness, Money, and How To. A tech expert herself, she's reviewed and covered countless products, hosted hundreds of videos, and appeared on shows like Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and the Today Show. An industry expert, Sharon is a recurring Best of Beauty Awards judge for Allure. Sharon is an avid chef and hosts the cooking segment 'Farm to Fork' on PBS nationwide. She's developed and published hundreds of recipes.
  • Webby Award ("How To, Explainer, and DIY Video"); Folio Changemaker Award, 2020
Sharon Profis
2 min read

Mark Zuckerberg
What are the chances that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not addicted to Facebook? James Martin/CNET

Once a simple place for college friends to connect, Facebook has become the crack of the Internet, beckoning us at all hours of the day to check in on our friends and share the minutia of our daily lives.

Without us realizing it, Facebook has become a place where our narcissistic dreams come true. Even the modest have turned it into an outlet where showing off is OK, stalking is accepted, and otherwise embarrassing photos are posted in exchange for momentarily pleasing Likes.

It's upsetting to hear, but a study reported in The Wall Street Journal confirms this theory. Researchers at Harvard revealed yesterday that talking about ourselves triggers the same sensation of pleasure and satisfaction we get from food, money, or sex.

So even though you might not agree that Facebook is as good as sex, your brain probably thinks otherwise.

Because bragging is so closely tied to pleasure, it's not surprising that so many of us flock to Facebook to fulfill our crack-like addiction to telling people how great our lives are (even if it takes a few extra adjectives and naughty photos to stretch that truth).

Like eating, drinking, and messing around, the pleasure of showing off to friends keeps us coming back for more.

A team from the University of Bergen in Norway dug deeper into this social media addiction issue to address this very topic. In a 423-person study published recently, the researchers observed the habits of men and women to find out what the risk factors are in Facebook addiction.

The results weren't surprising: younger users are more often addicted than older users; anxious and the socially insecure use Facebook more; and women are more at risk of developing a Facebook addiction.

Interestingly enough, the reason for women being more addicted to Facebook is only stated as due to the "social nature of Facebook."

Upon completion of the study, the researchers packaged their findings into what's being dubbed as "The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale." It asks you to evaluate the following six warning signs with a number scale: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very often.

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

If you score 4's or 5's on at least four items, you may be addicted to Facebook.

Sadly, the study offered no solution, leaving us Facebook addicts (did I just say that?) with little to do but share our results in a status update.