More time on social media may make you feel lonelier
17 Mar 2017 | 04:49 PM
If you are feeling cut off from the rest of society, spending more time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter may only make things worse, a new study warns.
The more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to feel socially isolated, the findings showed.
“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalise us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for,” said lead author Brian Primack from University of Pittsburgh in the US.
The finding, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggests that use of social media does not present a panacea to help reduce perceived social isolation — when a person lacks a sense of social belonging, true engagement with others and fulfilling relationships.
The researchers analysed responses from more than 1,500 US adults between ages 19 and 32 about their use of 11 most popular social media platforms at the time — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.
The scientists measured participants’ perceived social isolation using a validated assessment tool called the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.
The researcher found that participants who used social media more than two hours a day had twice the odds for perceived social isolation than their peers who spent less than half an hour on social media each day.
And those who visited various social media platforms 58 or more times per week had about triple the odds of perceived social isolation than those who visited fewer than nine times per week.
The researchers believe that social media use may displace more authentic social experiences because the more time a person spends online, the less time there is for real-world interactions.
Moreover, certain characteristics of social media could facilitate feelings of being excluded, such as when one sees photos of friends having fun at an event to which they were not invited.
Exposure to highly idealised representations of peers’ lives on social media sites may elicit feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and more successful lives, the researchers said.