As Facebook Takes Over Their Lives, Some Teens are Pulling the Plug

With more than 350 million active users worldwide, the social networking site Facebook has become a household name. But some households are pulling the plug.

For Michigan 10th grader Neeka Salmasi, chatting and messaging with her friends on Facebook had become a huge problem.

In the beginning, she said she'd be online for as little as 20 minutes a day, but then those minutes grew into a couple of hours on weekdays and sometimes as long as six hours on the weekend.

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She wasn't doing other tasks, and her grades were slipping.

"It's like an addiction," the teen said. "You look up one moment and it's day and you look up another moment and it's night."

For Some, Facebook Becomes an Obsession

So in order to put Facebook in its proper place, Salmasi took action. She asked her sister to change her Facebook password at the beginning of each week and keep it hidden from her until weekends.

Neeka isn't the only teen backing away from the Web site.

Monica Reed and Halley Lamberson quickly realized that they too were wasting too much time on Facebook.

So the teens -- best friends from California -- decided to limit their use to one Saturday per month.

Click here to get extra tips to control your teen's Facebook usage.

Teens Learning to Balance Facebook, Lives

Like so many teenagers across the country, the girls were struggling to find a balance between social media and their everyday lives.

Sherry Turkle, a professor of psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said people are now dropping in and out of Facebook, and learning how to integrate it into their lives in better ways.

"We're not going to be taking away the Internet," she said. "It's more a question of living with these devices that so compel us, in a way that serves our human purposes."

Salmasi seems to have found the right balance.

"(The) first week was hard," she said. "My friends didn't know how I could do it but my studying habits improved."

Internet safety expert Parry Aftab says that a teen's Internet use rises to the level of addiction when "things are out of balance."

"They aren't doing things offline," she said, or they don't have any friends offline. "They're all-consumed."

If you suspect your teen has a problem, she recommends looking at their page. "How often are they posting? If it gets really bad you can use monitoring software," she said. "You have to determine whether they like it a lot, they're obsessed, or they really are addicted."

Parents have to recognize that "the kids don't see it as a site, they see it as life," she said. "It's how they live, and what we need to do is find balance."

Click here to get extra tips to control your teen's Facebook usage.

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