Facing Facebook: UofL students speak on how to fight addiction - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Facing Facebook: UofL students speak on how to fight addiction

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Does this sound familiar: you wake up and first thing reach for your phone to check in, or you spend your day peeking at your Facebook page?  

A group of University of Louisville students worked on a cure for Facebook addiction as a project for their honors behavior modification seminar.  They spent part of Friday afternoon teaching UofL faculty and staff about "Facing Facebook."

The group is halfway joking, but the four University of Louisville students could be their own "Facebook Anonymous" sponsors.

"It's very much like a slot machine," said Matt Robeson of Facebook. "Every once in a while, you'll hit it big."

Robeson says he learned there are a lot of parallels between Facebook use and real-life addictions

"Every time we log into Facebook, we don't know what's waiting for us," he said. "It could be a nice little comment on our wall.  It could be a like and that's the things that we crave most as a human being."

He says tags and likes speak to our needs to be loved, wanted and fit in.

"So it's very much like gambling and how people can keep laying money down and laying down money on the table because they don't know when it will pay off," he said.

So if Facebook can be an addiction, Robeson and fellow classmates Spencer Scruggs, Tyler Bosley and Justin Brandt thought, "Why not correct it like one?" They used a tried and true behavior modification strategy.

"Punishments and rewards are different for everybody," explains Brandt.

As college students, money worked for this group: a punishment of five dollars in for using Facebook for too long or too frequently and rewards for doing it right.

"If we used Facebook healthily - or what we determined to be healthily, which is every once in a while, just a few minutes, check what's going on - and then studied for five minutes immediately after, then we could get some money out of the jar," Brandt said.

That reward money had to be used on a splurge, something the students would not otherwise buy.

The results: two months and a steady decline in the time spent on social media and more time spent being students.

"We started to remember what life was like before we had Facebook," said Robeson.

Brandt says the first thing he recommends for any of us is to track our time spent on social media.  He says it's eye opening!  Then if you think you want to cut down, find the punishments and rewards that work for you.

The students also have a few short-cut tactics to give you some extra help. In their presentation to faculty and staff, they suggested:

1)  Change in location: change location of reinforcement to a location in which you are more likely to do something productive after five minutes on Facebook.

2)  Change in time: change the time when you do the activity that facilitates doing something productive after five minutes on Facebook.

3)  Rearrange the surrounding: deleting the Facebook app on your phone or getting rid of devices to access Facebook in the locations you do productively work in. 

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