Understanding Perceptions of Problematic Facebook Use

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)


While many people use social network sites to connect with friends and family, some feel that their use is problematic, seriously affecting their sleep, work, or life. Pairing a survey of 20,000 Facebook users measuring perceptions of problematic use with behavioral and demographic data, we examined Facebook activities associated with problematic use as well as the kinds of people most likely to experience it. People who feel their use is problematic are more likely to be younger, male, and going through a major life event such as a breakup. They spend more time on the platform, particularly at night, and spend proportionally more time looking at profiles and less time browsing their News Feeds. They also message their friends more frequently. While they are more likely to respond to notifications, they are also more likely to deactivate their accounts, perhaps in an effort to better manage their time. Further, they are more likely to have seen content about social media or phone addiction. Notably, people reporting problematic use rate the site as more valuable to them, highlighting the complex relationship between technology use and well-being. A better understanding of problematic Facebook use can inform the design of context-appropriate and supportive tools to help people become more in control.

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