Do Social media addicts show similar impairments to gambling addicts?

A new study has highlighted links between excessive Social Media use and the impact of decision-making. It is a feature that is often only found in gambling – or drug-addicted people.

The study was conducted at Michigan State University. It will be the first study to investigate the relationship between excessive use of social media and an impairment of decision-making. The results were published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

How was the investigation carried out exactly?

The research was conducted at Michigan State University. They had ordered 71 participants and investigated their social media habits with the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) for addictive behaviour.

This is the first scale for measuring a Facebook search. Some experts from Norway had developed it. In addition, the participants had to carry out the so-called Iowa Gambling Task in order to enable the experts to assess the processes of decision-making.

What is the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS)?

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale to a simple catalogue of 6 questions about using Facebook. The subject has different answers to choose from, for which the following points are awarded:

  • Very rare-0 points
  • rare-0 points
  • sometimes – 1 point
  • often – 1 point
  • very often – 1 point
  • Every Day – 2 points

The participants were then asked questions such as the following. How often do you have in the last year …

Facebook used to forget personal problems?
Facebook, so that it had a negative influence on the profession / study?
trying to stop using Facebook, but without success?
do you feel the urge to use Facebook more and more?
Feel restless because it was not possible or forbidden to use Facebook?
a lot of time spent on Facebook, or it planned?
If you reach a total of 4 points or more through the scale, there is a risk that you have developed a Facebook search. This is only an indicator for detecting an addiction.

What is the Iowa Gambling Task?

This task was developed at the University of Iowa’s Antoine Bechara, António & Hanna Damásio and Steven Anderson. In rare cases, it is also called Bechara’s Gambling Task. The task will help to map realistic decision-making situations in relation to a high degree of uncertainty on positive or negative events.

The test person has to play several rounds, taking a card from 4 decks of cards in which there is either a high profit or high loss.

The Test person receives $ 2,000 play money at the Start. If he chooses a card from Stack A or B, he receives $ 100 win. The stacks C and D have a $ 50 profit.

After a few rounds, there will be penalty payments in an unknown amount. The total number of rounds is also unknown to the player. His only goal is to get as much play money as possible.

The penalties for stacks A and B should be significantly higher than for stacks C and D. In the classical Form, after ten rounds, when the test person takes a card from pile A or B, after the first profit of $ 100, a net loss of $ 250. In ten rounds with stacks C or D, a net profit of 250 dollars is expected, because the penalty is lower.

In the original version, it should be determined whether people with a lesion in the ventromedial prefrontal Cortex (damage to the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex) show similar results, such as a healthy control group.

It turned out that both groups can see at the end of the long-term advantageous stack of Cards. However, it takes significantly longer in patients with damaged brain region, until they get to the knowledge.

The same results have also shown gambling addicts, drug addicts or anorexics, the need to perform this Test. You need more time to identify the best possible game strategy than people without addictive behavior. The decision-making processes are also affected in them, although there is no damage to the brain in the particular area.

The results of the study

About a third of people in the world use social media. Facebook is the largest Institution on the market, in September 2018 1.49 billion people are expected to have used the pages daily. On June 30, 2018, Instagram, a service also owned by Facebook, came to 1 billion users a month. Some users spend a lot of time on the portals, some even show an inappropriate or excessive use. Dar Meshi, lead author of the new study, summed it up as follows :

With so many people around the world who use Social Media, it is crucial for us to understand their use. [ … ] I believe that Social Media has enormous advantages for the individual, but there is also a dark side when people cannot withdraw. We need to understand this drive better so that we can determine whether excessive use of Social Media should be regarded as addiction.

The investigation revealed that people who were able to detect a Facebook addiction by Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale were also able to see a worse performance in the Iowa Gambling Task. The better participants in the task have spent significantly less time on Facebook in their private lives.

Study is a first start

There is certainly also criticism of the study, since it has some weak points. For example, only Facebook usage was asked. Other social networks like Twitter have not been mentioned. There is also generally a little criticism of the significance of the Iowa Gambling Task. Nevertheless, the authors of the study see in their work an important contribution to the discussion of the impact of social networks on their users. The researchers warn in the publication:

Social Media usage is ubiquitous and continues to grow, which is likely to cause more people to show signs of excessive, problematic Social Media usage. Meanwhile, companies continue to work on Features to make their Social media platforms even more captivating.

The last sentence should be seen, especially with the Background of the Social-Casino Games. Some casino games can be played via Facebook With play money, but to receive the Coins you have to transfer Real Money. The disturbed perception of players became clear last when I had produced a report on the use of odds Labels on slot machines. At the time, the Labels had the opposite effect – the players played more because they thought they had an advantage over the slot machine. In another study, it was found that addict players see little probability of winning as an incentive to play. If the interferences in the area of Facebook addicts are similar, it can lead to far-reaching problems in the future.

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