Facebook Replaces Drugs, Marshmallows As Teen Addiction Du Jour

by BILLY GRAY · December 21, 2009

Facebook AddictHigh school girls now have another reason to wonder if it's that time of the month. Grappling with Facebook addictions that threaten the college application process, a growing number of teenagers are self-imposing strict limits on their social networking time.-

The Times interviews two young women who have whittled down their habit to one measly hit on the first Saturday morning of each month. Explains Katie Hafner:

"The two are among the many teenagers, especially girls, who are recognizing the huge distraction Facebook presents — the hours it consumes every day, to say nothing of the toll it takes during finals and college applications, according to parents, teachers and the students themselves."

One Stanford professor is reminded of an experiment he conducted which "tested young children’s ability to delay gratification when presented with...“hot” temptations, like marshmallows." Facebook, he concludes, is the new marshmallow. (Put that in your media kit and roast it, Zuckerberg.)

I'm not sure why Facebook would consume more time than teen girl fixations from a more primitive era, like endless phone calls and crushes on Kirk Cameron. I'm also relieved that Facebook didn't exist when I was in high school, when people actively jockeyed to be popular and a social pecking order was still firmly in place. At least in college, everyone was too hungover to care.

Maybe that distinction between high school and college Face'ing is what makes the habit pose a bigger risk to these confused, simple minds:

"For one 18-year-old boy completing a college application..., “Facebook wasn’t merely a distraction, but it was really confusing him about who he was.” He was burned out...trying to live up to his own descriptions of himself."

This makes me fear for my friend who has Nick Nolte's post-DUI mug shot as his profile picture. It also forces me to urge Guest of a Guest readers to deactivate away on Facebook, but continue tagging your pictures here.