“We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face,” says Andreassen. The Norwegian team also finds that people who are more organized and ambitious tend not to become addicted to Facebook, and are more likely to use social media as an integral part of work and networking activity. Andreassen says they find women tend to be more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, something they attribute to the social nature of Facebook.
Dr Mark D Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies in the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, writes a response to the study in the same issue of the journal. In a personal blog about his response, he says that while he had no problem with the study by Andraessen and colleagues, he wished to comment more widely on doing research into Facebook addiction. Griffiths says the BFAS most likely arose from a need to help researchers who require a psychometrically validated tool for investigating problematic use of Facebook, and as such it will clearly be useful.
But in his view, the field of Facebook addiction now has to move on and keep pace, and in doing so needs to address several points. For instance, there is a need to address social networking as an activity, separate from Facebook, which is a commercial product of which social networking is just one aspect. People now go on Facebook to gamble, play games like Farmville, watch films and videos, swap photos, message friends, and update their profile. Another point Griffiths makes is that we need to clarify what it is that eople on social networks are really addicted to, and what, for example, a Facebook addiction tool is really measuring. The BFAS may only be applicable to Facebook, and not for example to other social networking sites such as Bebo, which is popular with young teenagers. With the fast pace at which electronic media and sites that started primarily for social networking, are changing and offering an increasingly varied number of activities, Griffiths suggests the term “Facebook addiction”, like “Internet addiction” may already be obsolete.
There is a big difference between addictions on the Internet, and addiction to the Internet, he adds, and the same argument now holds true for Facebook, as it does for mobile phones. Thus, what is needed now is a psychometrically validated tool that specifically assesses “social networking addiction”, rather than Facebook use, says Griffiths. As an example, he points out that the BFAS does not distinguish between addiction to Farmville, and constantly messaging Facebook friends.