Facebook Chat – An Addictive Online Activity?

To say that Facebook is addictive is to state the obvious. A lot of people just cannot live without Facebook — they use it to check on friends and family, share news and gossip, plays games and pranks and so on. But another facet of Facebook that has really turned regular internet users into Facebook addicts is chatting.

Yes, Facebook chat is one of the reasons why millions of people visit and stay for hours on Facebook everyday.

Here’s how it works: By default, the moment you login, you are shown as online in the Facebook chat widget that appears at the widget bar at the bottom of any Facebook page. Unless you click “Go Offline” in the Options of the Facebook chat widget, you will be seen by friends as “online”.

And guess what. Chances are you will see a notification of a new chat message from a friend. If you have few friends, of course, this won’t likely happen. But if you have friends in the hundreds, then be prepared to accept chat messages.

Chatting online is a way of communicating with contacts, friends, and family instantly. It is not something new, but because Facebook developers knows that chatting is one of the top activities online, they added this to Facebook.

What makes chatting on Facebook addictive to some is that you chat with real friends and contacts you really know and not some stranger as you would experience in other chat networks. So a simple “Hi” chat message from a long lost friend could turn into a hour-long reminiscing “do you remember the old days” session. And before you know it, the one hour turns into two hours.

Then another chat notification shows up, this time from another friend. And not for long, you find yourself chatting with two or ten people. Yes, it happens. This may not be a big deal if you’re not busy, but if you are at work, this could kill your time and delay your work.

Another reason why Facebook chat is addictive is that Facebook makes it so convenient. No more need to login to another website or software (like Yahoo Messenger or Skype) just so you can talk to your Facebook friends in real time. The chat bar is always there, and you can even pop out a chat window, so you can continue chatting even when you have left Facebook, as long as you are still logged in.

The only thing missing from Facebook chat is video and audio chat. However, there are third party software that will allow you to chat with your Facebook friends using video and audio. Now imagine how much more addicting it could be if audio and video were added to Facebook chat.

To avoid addiction to Facebook chat, I would suggest not responding to chat messages from friends whom you know like to chat for hours, or letting them know that you can only chat for a certain number of minutes. Chatting on Facebook is fun and can be productive, and it can be done without necessarily being addicted to it.