If news, games, feedback on your posts or the chance to meet new friends is driving you to Facebook, then you may be having a dependency, according to a new study.
However, for the University of Akron’s Amber Ferris, Facebook dependency is not necessarily a bad thing.
Ferris, who studies Facebook user trends, said that the more people use Facebook to fulfill their goals, the more dependent on it they become. She is quick to explain this dependency is not equivalent to an addiction. Rather, the reason why people use Facebook determines the level of dependency they have on the social network. The study found those who use Facebook to meet new people were the most dependent on Facebook overall.
To identify dependency factors, Ferris and Erin Hollenbaugh, an associate professor of communication studies at Kent State University at Stark, studied 301 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 68 who post on the site at least once a month.
They found that people who perceive Facebook as helpful in gaining a better understanding of themselves go to the site to meet new people and to get attention from others. Also, people who use Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of themselves tend to have agreeable personalities, but lower self-esteem than others.
“They might post that they went to the gym. Maybe they’ll share a post expressing a certain political stance or personal challenge they’re facing. They rely on feedback from Facebook friends to better understand themselves,” said Ferris, explaining that some users observe how others cope with problems and situations similar to their own and get ideas on how to approach others in important and difficult situations.
The study has been presented at National Communication Association Conference 2015.