Study: Facebook, Twitter as addictive as alcohol, cigarettes

Published: Feb 06 2012 04:51:50 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 07 2012 12:32:31 PM EST

It seems like almost everyone uses Facebook and Twitter these days, but can the social networking sites be considered addicting?

"Sometimes you don't even realize it," said Amber Work, a Facebook user. "You pull out your phone and you just go on it."

Work is not alone. According to a new study from the University of Chicago, more and more Americans are becoming addicted to social media.

The urge to constantly check Facebook and/or Twitter accounts could be as addictive as alcohol or cigarettes, according to the report's researchers, who monitored more than 200 people in the United States and Germany between the ages of 18 and 30.

During the course of 14 hours, researchers sent thousands of text messages to participants asking them if they had the urge to check their online account status. Seventy-five percent reported having the desire to check Facebook and/or Twitter.

"Addiction refers to a process where typically we think of it involving substances, but it can also include behaviors," said therapist Tom Adil, the director of adolescent behavior health services at Reading Hospital.

One of the warning signs for when urges become problematic is when people need to increase their intake amounts to become satisfied, said Adil.

"I think we would find a behavior to be an addiction if it was interfering with other responsibilities and social interactions," said Adil.

If you find yourself questioning whether you are on your Facebook or Twitter accounts too much, Adil said, you more than likely are.

"You might compare it to cigarette smoking very easily and if someone isn't able to do their job to function in their work environment because of needing to smoke tobacco, then that's an issue and the same would apply with Facebook and Twitter," said Adil. "If they can't function in their job because of these activities, then there's a problem."Stu