The Facebook addiction Posted on 2007-06-26 by Dave Fowler
Facebook has evolved as one of the most powerful way of social networking, sharing photographs, video, blogs as well as communicating with friends and networks. Fred Stutzman is a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's who studied facebook and it's usage at his university. As he goes to describe his plan of the longitudinal study over a period of one semester, some of his assumptions are totally reestablished through the statistics. He basically studies the social behavior of freshman at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Alarmingly, 85% of college freshman were already on the facebook as they joined as freshmen, and not only that, they also were already connected to on an avg 45 other freshmen coming in week one of the study itself. The increase in new users over the course of the semester came out to be up to 94% with student to student connections increased to about an avg of 100. Well ... this should definitely have been the initial assumption anyway. College does mitigate the social networking abilities of students :p These statistics however lead to the speculation of spreading of facebook through orientation sessions for the school. This is supported by the initial links and connections between the students coming in being about 144,000 friend network connection (week1) and increasing to 370,000 (at the end of sem) just for the freshman class of UNC.
Facebook is an amazing way of interacting with acquaintances, friends, and learning about each other. Fred studies the personal information sharing tendencies of students along with privacy considerations. The users on facebook get to decide how much information to share and what type of information to share. Facebook provides a very flexible approach to networks and their situational relevance which allows users to change their network relevance and relations with change of demographics at the same time being connected with the old friends from another network. Not only that, it provides a great way of managing social connections without too much time investment. At the same time, the study finds out that a lot of time ends up being wasted online on facebook. The fact that users stay connected with others easily all the time, also tends to become addictive thus degrading productivity. If the whole communication between users could be made more informative and useful, rather than just a description, the wasteful addiction could be transformed into an even more useful. It could change the way people look at information via other users themselves and gain knowledge out of their own social networks or expand their networks based on knowledge and information.