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Illustration by Mathew Kurian / The National
Illustration by Mathew Kurian / The National

Are you a Facebook addict?

Here are the questions to ask yourself to find out whether your Facebook habit is getting out of hand.

Are you on Facebook, and if so, do you go on it once a month or more like once a minute? If you're on the more frequent end of the spectrum, you should check to see where you are on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have come up with a way to work out if you're using the social networking website too much and need to start taking control.

The paper, published in the journal Psychological Reports, suggests 18 questions you can ask yourself to see if your Facebook habit is getting out of hand. They are grouped into six categories.

Thoughts

How often do you think about Facebook? Do you work out how to spend more time on the site?

Tolerance

Do you check Facebook more and more often, and spend more time on it than you intended to?

Mood

Do you use Facebook to distract yourself from negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety and restlessness?

Relapse

Have people told you to cut down, or have you tried to use Facebook less, without any success?

Withdrawal

How do you feel if you haven't logged into Facebook in a while? Do you get irritable or restless?

Conflict

Do you use Facebook so much that it cuts into time that should be spent working, doing leisure activities, exercising, or spending time with a partner, family or friends?

Different categories have different weights, but if you answer "often" or "very often" to most of them, you score highly on the addiction scale.

There are various reasons for Facebook addiction, the report says. The most common reason for using the site is to keep in contact with people who are useful for work or study. People who get hooked on it tend to feel that the more connected they are, the more other people will value them.

Heavy Facebook users are also more likely to be narcissistic, neurotic, sensitive to rewards and extroverted, according to other studies cited in the paper. They are less likely to be ambitious and hardworking.

Studies cited also show that there is a link between Facebook addiction and interacting less frequently with people in person, doing worse at school and having relationship problems. The Bergen study also found a link between heavy Facebook use and going to bed later at night and getting up later in the morning.

Although the Bergen scientists don't suggest remedies in their paper, the idea of a "technology Sabbath" - or one day without screens or gadgets per week - is becoming increasingly widespread, as are software programmes such as Anti-Social, which prevents you from accessing social networking sites on your computer.

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