Facebook addiction and ‘disconnect anxiety’ among college students

5) Privacy desensitization. The need to connect has evolved into over-sharing of epidemic proportions. This is troubling when considered within the context of college students who we are preparing to go out into the workforce and become responsible members of society.

While there is validity to sharing parts of our lives on Facebook, there is an implied imperative to keeping some things private – not only to protect the privacy of our own lives, but also the privacy of others who may be included in, or affected by, our posts.

Beyond the social implications of this, there is safety to be considered as well. From the content we’re sharing in our updates, to the personal information we’re sharing with Facebook and other social networks, there are any number of opportunities for sharing too much and, in turn, becoming the target of unwelcome activity, from a “harmless” solicitation to identity theft.

All of that said, I would be remiss not to admit my own family’s experience with disconnect anxiety. It was, in fact, my realization that we had among the four of us 18 devices for connecting online that inspired me to write #Hooked. In it I talk about tech detox, which essentially involves a deliberate, daily setting of boundaries around internet use.

It’s still a few years before my two boys head off to college, and who knows if Facebook will carry as much import by then. But social networking is here to stay, and as a society we have a responsibility to ensure disconnect anxiety among our young people is not allowed to tip the scales in favor of living virtually over living in the real world.

Gregory Jantz, founder, The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, and author of Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology, and Social Networking

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