It's that time of year when resolutions are made to start, or quit, something. Maybe you'll quit sugar, maybe you'll start running - but have you thought about quitting Facebook? Many have, but it's harder than you might think. Recent research from Cornell University explains why.
It's a time-suck, and you would probably be surprised just how long you spend on the social network, more so when you add in checking on mobile. The same memes, photos and dodgy science are posted day after day. Yet many of us continue to regularly post, check-in, Like, comment and share on Facebook every single day.
You may have friends who have announced they are taking a break from Facebook, only to see them pop up on the newsfeed a few hours later. Few are brave enough to actually delete their account, instead opting for deactivation. These actions sound like a smoker who announces their intention to quit, only to find themselves buying a packet at the next gas station, or keeps a pack in a desk drawer 'just in case'.
While reverting to smoking is down to nicotine addiction, new research from Cornell University says those unable to quit Facebook suffer from 'perceived addiction'. In a nutshell, that means that those who feel Facebook is addictive or a habit were more likely to return. "In the first 10 days, whenever I opened up an internet browser, my fingers would automatically go to 'f'' said one of the study participants.
This is what the study, 'Missing Photos, Suffering Withdrawal, or Finding Freedom? How Experiences of Social Media Non-Use Influence the Likelihood of Reversion' dubs "social media reversion" - or the inability to stay off of Facebook. Conclusions were drawn from more than 5,000 surveys conducted by Dutch creative agency Just, founders of the 99 Days of Freedom project. Participants were polled on days 33, 66 and 99 to gauge their mood throughout the Facebook detox.
Other reasons the Cornell study found for returning to Facebook while trying to quit include bad mood (the appeal of Facebook was stronger than when in a good mood), and the lack of any other social network (those who did not use other social media such as Instagram or Twitter were far more likely to return to Facebook). Finally, users who believe their Facebook activity is being monitored are less likely to revert, while those who use Facebook largely to manage how other people think of them are more likely to log back in.
However, taking a break from Facebook could lead to better social media habits. According to the research, many of those who returned pared down their friend list, limited the time they spent on the site or removed the app from their mobile device.
Earlier this year, a study by the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, found that those who quit Facebook for a week not only felt happier and less stressed, but levels of concentration improved, as did their social life.