Have you ever felt you had to take a break from Facebook? Join the club. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, as many as 61 percent of current users of that social networking giant say they have voluntarily taken a break for several weeks or more.
The research organization said the largest group of those Facebook vacationers (21 percent) said they did so because they were too busy with other demands or otherwise did not have enough time for the site. Ten percent said they had a general lack of interest in the site and another 10 percent cited an absence of compelling content.
For 9 percent, the reason for the break was excessive gossip or "drama" on the part of their friends, and for 8 percent, the reason was concerns that they were spending too much time there.
'Not Getting Me Anywhere'
Pew cites such comments from respondents who took a break as "I was tired of stupid comments," "I took a break when it got boring," or "It was not getting me anywhere." Some also noted ways in which interactions on the site actually began to interfere with their life, such as causing problems in a romantic relationship or getting harassed.
Facebook is so large -- two-thirds of all online American adults are Facebook users -- that Pew also decided to find out if non-users had been users before. The study found that 20 percent of those adult Net users who do not use Facebook say they have in the past but do not now, while 8 percent of current non-users are interested in using it sometime.
But, overall, the integration of social networking sites into everyday life continues to grow. The study noted that 69 percent of online adults use some kind of social networking site, compared with 47 percent in September 2009. In a separate survey the organization conducted in November 2012, Pew found that 41 percent of social networking site users accessed their social network several times daily -- up from 33 percent in August 2011.
Spending Less Time
Nearly 60 percent of Facebook users say the site remains as important as it was about a year ago, and 53 percent say the amount of time they spend on Facebook has stayed consistent over the last year.
Twelve percent say Facebook's importance to them has increased, and 13 percent have increased the time they spend there. The study said that female users are more likely to say the site's importance and their time has increased -- 16 percent of females versus 7 percent for men for the importance factor, and 16 percent of females compared with 9 percent of men for time.
But not every demographic is increasing its Facebook time. Forty-two percent of users aged 18-29 and 34 percent of those between 30 and 49 reported that the time they spent over the last year had decreased. For users 50 and over, 23 percent were spending less time.
Heading into 2013, about one in four users had plans to cut back on their Facebook time. Again, those aged 18 to 29 were leading in that category, with nearly 40 percent saying they planned to do something else.