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Challenge: a month sans Facebook; payoff? $300

Melynda Rushing wants her daughter to study harder, so the Rock Hill resident made her Facebook-loving college student a deal: Stay off the social network for a month, pour all those extra hours into academics, and you'll get $300.

About halfway through the challenge, Alyssa Rushing misses the network so much she jokingly says she's going through "Facebook detox." Like many of Facebook's 500 million-plus users, the 20-year-old typically logged on multiple times each day, keeping up with her friends and the world via status updates.

"It's very hard," she said via telephone from the University of South Carolina Upstate campus in Spartanburg. "It was actually a lot harder the first couple of days. I didn't know I was truly addicted."

Facebook and other social networking sites are commanding more of Americans' time, studies show. The average Facebook user spends about seven hours a month on the service, according to the Nielsen research firm.

Alyssa was spending three to four hours a day on Facebook.

Some experts say social networks are becoming as big a time-gobbler for America's youth as TV watching. One Pennsylvania school - Harrisburg University of Science and Technology - blocked social networks from the school's computer system for a week last month to make students think about the impact of digital technology on their lives.

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