Are Social Networks Becoming Addictions?

By: Dan Harris, ABC News
By: Dan Harris, ABC News
The Facebook social networking site has 350-million users who spend about an hour-a-day on the site.

** FILE ** Facebook.com's mastermind Mark Zuckerberg smiles at his office in Palo Alto, Calif. in this Feb. 5, 2007 file photo. Rapidly rising Internet star Facebook Inc. has sold a 1.6 percent stake to Microsoft Corp. for $240 million, spurning a competing offer from online search leader Google Inc. The deal announced on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007 after several weeks of negotiation values Palo Alto-based Facebook at $15 billion _ less than four years after Mark Zuckerberg started the online social networking site in his Harvard University dorm room. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The Facebook social networking site has 350-million users who spend about an hour-a-day on the site.

But how can you tell when social networking goes from just being social, to being an addiction?

Dan Harris reports on some Facebook junkies who are trying to kick their habit.

For Michigan 10th grader Neeka Salmasi, chatting and messaging with her friends on Facebook had become a huge problem.

"It's like an addiction.' says Neeka, "you look up one moment and it's day and you look up another moment and it's night."

In the beginning, she says she'd be online for as little as 20 minutes a day ...but then those minutes grew into a couple of hours on weekdays and sometimes as long as six hours on the weekend.

"She wasn't doing any other tasks," said Neeka's mom. "Her room was really messy. And then a couple of times we fight over it. And we don't fight that much."

Neeka's grades were going down, her mom was constantly checking up on her... the obsession to constantly check Facebook disrupting her life.

And in California, best friends Monica Reed and Halley Lamberson quickly realized that they too were wasting too much time on Facebook.

These teens, like so many teenagers across the country, were struggling to find a balance between social media and their everyday lives.

Dr. Sherry Turkle, Psychology Professor, at MIT says, "For a teenager, it doesn't make sense to think of MY LIFE and then I get distracted by SOCIAL MEDIA. We're not going to be taking away the internet. It's more a question of living with these devices that so compel us, in a way that serves our human purposes."

So in order to put Facebook in its proper place, Neeka took action. She asked her sister to change her Facebook password on Monday morning, and keep it hidden from her until Friday night.

Neeka said, "The first week was hard. My friends didn't know how I could do it, but my studying habits improved."

Monica and Halley decided to limit their use to one Saturday per month.

"If one of us cheated, and looked at Facebook, we'd be forced to write something embarrassing on somebody else's Facebook page."

Dr. Sherry Turkle said, "People take breaks, people drop in and out. Parents and children, we're all learning how to do this better."


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