28.10.2009 Feature Article

Infected with Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD))?

Infected with Facebook Addiction Disorder FAD?
28.10.2009 LISTEN

Psychologists and possibly psychiatrists will soon realize the need to venture into a new field of study named Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD). This is real and for now I can confidently associate a friend of mine to this disorder. The fact is, she's behaving strangely, even on a hospital bed she can't spend a night without linking up to the network via her mobile phone. It's getting crazier!

She spends increasing amount of time on Facebook to achieve satisfaction, no wonder she got a phone that's always active and connected 24/7. Now l learnt she's got two connected mobile phones, just in case one network delays or could not get the link, she quickly activates the second network. A reduction of Facebook use to her causes distress and anxiety as she can't help think about what is written on her wall on Facebook. At the moment she's got over 4000 friends and at any point in time, she's got something to talk about with friends.

She confirmed to me that the first thing she does when she wakes up is to check her facebook, and then she checks her Facebook page regularly whiles at work and keeps it active, she checks Facebook sometimes when in traffic via her mobile phone, again when she gets home and one more time before she goes to sleep. She obviously needs some help here and this is where I suggest some smart psychologists in the country begin to step in. Already there is the Facebook Addiction Test (FAT) suggested by operators of Facebook. It is the first validated and reliable measure of addictive use of the Facebook. FAT is a 20-item questionnaire that measures mild, moderate, and severe levels of Facebook Addiction. In my next article I will put out some researches made with respect to how to deal with this problem. There are already tried and tested ways of overcoming this kind of addiction.

A group of students at Stanford University, California, are undertaking a course named “The Psychology of Facebook” which is the brainchild of Professor B J Fogg, a pioneering persuasion psychologist who founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford. His main goal is to help his students become a world class expert on the psychology of facebook.

"Where on earth could you get a million customers in a week? That was when I said 'I want to learn more about this' and I thought the best way was to teach a class and look at how persuasion happens" explained the Prof.

Each week the class dissects an aspect of Facebook and looks at the way it works, the psychology behind it and what impression users are trying to convey.

If facebook were a human being, one would have wondered the kind of spirit a five year child possesses to the extent that 300 million people worldwide are already possessed and even still growing.

Facebook is currently the number one social networking site, thrashing one-time social network leader MySpace. A program a guy (Mark Zuckerburg) created in his dorm room for a project has had a phenomenal growth with more than 300 million active users of which 50% log on in any given day and has over 70 language translations. With the aid of some friends, the initial aim was to help students keep in touch over the internet and get to know each other better. Within 24 hours, 1,200 Harvard students had signed up and soon after that the network was quickly extended to other colleges and universities.

Statistics indicate that more than 6 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day worldwide with 4 million status updates each day. There are 2 billion photos uploaded to the site each month and over 3 million events created each month. There are more than 65 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices, even in hospitals. Research shows that people that use Facebook on their mobile devices are almost 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

The site has created a platform for over one million developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries and every month, over 70% of Facebook users engage with platform applications as close to 20,000 websites, devices and applications have implemented Facebook Connect since December 2008.

Are you not amazed about all these developments just within five years? The use of this social networking site is booming for users of all ages. The fastest growing age group using Facebook is users older than 55 with an increase of 108% in September. The most prolific age group using social networks continues to be 18 to 24 year olds with 32.3% of the visitors. Users 25 to 34 were 26.9% of the visitors.

Interesting things happening on Facebook
Contrary to findings that suggest online social networking sites make people anti-so or less sociable, a study by Cambridge University has revealed that Facebook can encourage people to be more sociable. Researchers discovered Facebook gave people more choice on how they conduct relationships and was "a way of storing biography and enhancing social memory".

The study showed many people used it to track people they liked or to find out what ex-partners were up to.

People also used it to keep in touch with old school and university friends who they might otherwise lose contact with. As a result it could change the way people associated at a fundamental level, meaning former relationships and associations can be revived, according to the study.

Personally, I was able to see the picture of my brother (from same parents) whom I have not seen close to 8 years now since he travelled to the US. There was no way I could have imagined his new looks. I have also been able to connect to long lost friends, over 16 years ago (classmates at Accra Academy). Some are now bankers, lawyers, pastors and doctors. You can guess how helpful these contacts can be.

A friend of mine (name withheld) just married a Facebook fiancé having courted for close to two years. They are a sweet couple and are looking forward to living a successful marriage life.

How can I forget about the Minister of Information Zita Okaikoi and her two deputies? They regularly get vital feedback from the general public and pass on to us government information. Let no one underrate the significance of this single initiative, it gives them an idea of varying sentiments Ghanaians have toward issues of national development.

Check out President Barack Obama Facebook! Even before becoming a president! Regular updates of his moves and policy initiatives. There was a recent poll created but quickly removed because of its sensitive nature. “Should Obama be killed” with four potential answers -"Yes", "no", "Maybe" and "if he cuts my health care". Secret services knowing the impact such piece of information quickly stepped in and were able to track the source.

For Paulpaul Hughes (60) who is from Bankok, Thailand, he found his lost brother whom he had lost contact with for over 28 years. Now they have been able to visit each other and introduced their families as well. Lynne Ackers, 54, from Merseyside, UK, will remain eternally grateful to Facebook which helped her to renew her relationship with the eldest daughter after 10 years. She also just met her grand-daughter of nine and half years. She then connected the daughter to her younger siblings. It was all a joyous moment for the family.

A couple with the same name who found each other through social networking website Facebook is preparing to tie the knot this month (October). Kelly Katrina Hildebrandt, 20, was bored one evening last year when she put her name into the site and came across Kelly Carl Hildebrandt, 24. She sent the only other Kelly Hildebrandt, of Lubbock, Texas, a message and they became friends. Ms Hildebrandt, a student from Miami, Florida, said she believed the chain of events was "all God's timing".

How about this story? A man on the run, wanted for fraud by US authorities, inadvertently revealed where he was hiding through a series of extravagant Facebook updates. According to BBC news, Cameroon-born Maxi Sopo's messages made it clear he was living the high life in the Mexican resort of Cancun. He also added a former US justice department official to his friend list who ended up helping to track him down.

A Man killed his wife in Facebook row because of a posting she made on the site. Wayne Forrester 34, has been jailed for life for stabbing his wife Emma, also 34 to death just because she changed her online profile to “single” days after he had moved out.

Watch out you don't become addicted to Facebook! It's harmful to productivity and slows down your performance on the job.

By: Frank Agyemang
[email protected]