It is possible to get addicted to almost anything. The most obvious candidates are things like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and food. But anything which causes some kind of obsessive behavior in even one individual has the potential to be addictive. That includes the Web and, in particular, social networking sites such as Facebook. New research from the University of Bergen (UiB) suggests Facebook addiction is not only real but measurable using the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

A research team led by Doctor of Psychology Cecilie Schou Andreassen classifies addiction to Facebook as "a subdivision of Internet addiction."

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale comprises six statements which are meant to be answered with (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very Often. Answering with a 4 or above for four or more of the following statements may suggest an addiction to Facebook.

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

A total of 423 students (227 women and 196 men) were tested against the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, and the results have been published in the Psychological Reports journal.

A brief overview of the results suggests that Facebook addiction is more likely to affect younger people, people who are "anxious and socially insecure," and females. Those who are "organised and more ambitious" are less likely to be at risk of developing an addition to the site.

In the spirit of research, I put myself through the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale and passed with flying colors ... meaning I am not addicted to Facebook. In fact, I scored 1 or 2 on all six statements. However, if I was tested against the Web as a whole the result would likely be very different.

With Facebook preparing to IPO and approaching 1 billion users, who even in 2010 were spending a combined 16 billion minutes on the site, this research is rather timely.