Hooked on Facebook
By P. ARUNA firstname.lastname@example.orgPETALING JAYA: If you prefer to interact on Facebook rather than have a normal conversation, you could be suffering from a psychological disorder, an expert warned.
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur neuro-psychologist Dr Nivashinie Mohan said that Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) continues to go undetected because most addicts do not realise or want to admit that they have a problem.
With Malaysians spending more hours and having the most number of friends on Facebook, many had become addicted to it, she said.
“A lot of people do not see it as a real problem because they don't think it is as harmful as addiction to tobacco or drugs.
“But it is a problem that needs to be treated like any other addiction that prevents you from going on with your daily activities,” she said, adding that the disorder could cause anxiety and depression.
The disorder term FAD was coined by American psychologists to describe the addiction to Facebook.
Dr Nivashinie said that Facebook addicts had difficulty carrying on a normal conversation with people as they preferred to “poke”, “like” or comment on what their friends posted on the website.
She said the addicts felt the need to be connected to their Facebook friends all the time.
“They fear that they may miss out on something important if they don't constantly check the website,” she added.
On average, Dr Nivashinie said people spent about an hour each day on the website.
“But if you are cancelling plans with friends and family so you can spend the time on Facebook, it is a clear sign that you are addicted,” she said.
She added that addicts usually lost interest in school or were not productive at work because they were constantly on the website.
Stressing that the problem could be very serious, she said: “Sometimes these addicts don't even enjoy logging on to Facebook. They just feel they have to.
“Some people even break into cold sweat at the thought of not going on Facebook for a day or two. And they feel depressed when nobody communicates with them or responds to something they posted on the website.”
To overcome the disorder, she said addicts must first acknowledge that they have a problem.
“It may not be possible for them to quit Facebook immediately or completely,” Dr Nivashinie said. “They can begin by reducing and limiting the hours they spend on the website daily.”
Disconnected from real life
By WONG PEK MEI email@example.com
PETALING JAYA: Social networking can be addictive and stunt personal interaction, say experts.
People frequent websites like Facebook due to easy access via mobile devices, but “such convenience is distracting people from having real social interaction with another human being”, said psychologist and counsellor Adnan Omar.
“For example, a couple missed an opportunity to have true interaction with each other by going out for dinner, only to be surfing the Net or checking e-mail on their mobile devices,” he told The Star recently.
It was reported on Jan 10 that a nationwide study showed that Malaysian mobile web users on average spend 20% of their time on social media like Facebook and Twitter, 18% on music or videos, 17% on playing games, 14% on searches for general information and 13% on e-mail.
“We may know people in Russia but we do not know our own neighbours although they are just one wall away,” he said.
“If you're spending more than 25 hours per week social networking for other than work or academic reasons, you're addicted to it. It does not help that the Internet is readily available and you don't have to turn it off.”
Adnan said addicts had the urge to check their phone constantly and felt “empty deep inside” if they did not do so.
“When people post their pictures and updates, they are waiting for compliments to make them feel fulfilled. The other reason is that they need to kill time and would feel useless or uncomfortable if they do not do anything.
“Technology creates activities but not necessarily productivity although it makes us feel that way,” Adnan said.
Psychologist Dr Goh Chee Leong said the phone has become an important companion for “in between” times like when a person is waiting for someone.
The dean of HELP University College's Behavioural Sciences Faculty said people who often network generally have an active social life although “there are extreme cases”.
Facebook takes over mind and body
PETALING JAYA: Facebook addict Lim said her life now revolves around the social networking website.
Lim, who is in her 50s, admitted to a psychologist that she no longer had normal conversations with her family as most of her free time was spent in front of the computer.
She said she was addicted to Facebook games “Farmville” and “Baking Life” and would plan her daily activities around the website.
Lim said she would start her virtual “crop planting” or “baking” in the morning before work to make sure that it was completed in time for her to resume the game during lunch break.
“I have not had a good night's sleep in a long time as I can't log off until the wee hours of the morning,” she said.
Another addict, who wanted to be known only as Satish, said he logged on to Facebook every half hour.
“If I can't go on Facebook for some reason, I feel uneasy and can't concentrate on my work,” said the 30-year-old engineer.
His addiction became worse after he bought a smartphone.
Bosses face problem with workers wasting time on FB
PETALING JAYA: Employers are increasingly faced with the problem of employees wasting their time on Facebook and other social networking websites during office hours.
“Many companies have blocked their employees from accessing Facebook in the office, but this measure is not always effective as many of them can still access the website on their smartphones,” said Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan.
Although most employers wanted to stop employees from chatting or playing games online, he noted that companies in fields such as entertainment and media needed to access the social websites to keep up with the latest trends and news.
How the problem of time-wasting on websites was handled depended on “the nature of business” of the companies concerned, said Shamsuddin.
He added that young people might not be interested in working for companies which were too strict and did not allow them to log on to Facebook.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong said that Facebook users were “inviting trouble” if they constantly updated their status with information on their whereabouts and what they were doing.
“There are young girls who even update their status to say that they are going to take a bath,” he said.
He added that 14 female Facebook users had reported to the department that they were cheated and blackmailed last year.