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Can't Quit Facebook? Study Finds Why We Relapse

by Keith Wagstaff /

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Feel like Facebook is an addiction? You're not the only one.

A team of Cornell researchers studied more than 5,000 surveys from participants in the 99 Days of Freedom project, in which people tried to stay off Facebook for 99 days.

In a study released earlier this month in the journal Social Media + Society, they found that people were more likely to log back on if they had described Facebook as addictive.

"In the first 10 days, I thought about Facebook a lot," wrote one study participant. "Whenever I opened up a browser, my fingers would automatically go to ‘f’. On day 9, I had a dream about accidentally logging in to Facebook—which showed that I was consciously thinking about it."

In fact, while plenty of users reported that they missed looking at photos and other content on Facebook, it was mostly "people who describe compulsive behaviors who ultimately struggle with maintaining non-use," according to the study.

Study participants who logged in a lot weren't necessarily the people who had trouble quitting; it was the people who perceived themselves to be logging in a lot who couldn't give it up.

To quit Facebook, it would appear you need to convince yourself that you're not addicted. The researchers also found that people who reported being in a good mood were less likely to be tempted back onto Facebook.

Same thing for those who used other social media sites, like Pinterest or Instagram, to distract themselves. Another deterrent to returning to Facebook? Having strong privacy fears.

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