Social Media Can Fuel Feelings of Loneliness

Social media user

A recent study suggests social media can nearly double your chances of feeling lonely.

A recent study found that the more a young adult uses social media the more likely they are to feel lonely. Loneliness currently affects 60 million Americans and multiple studies suggest that, in some cases, it is an illness.

A group of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Study authors warn that social media is an extremely counterproductive way of reducing social isolation, a feeling that the person doesn’t belong to a group, doesn’t have fulfilling relationships, or is not able to truly engage with others.

Past research found that chronic loneliness can up the risk of early death by 26%, so doctors recommend addressing the issue just like they do with weight loss, exercise, or changing diets.

Lead author Dr. Brian A. Primack said the study comes at a time when social isolation and mental health issues have skyrocketed among the young adult population.

We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together,

Dr. Primack said.

He added that social media only creates the illusion that it can fill the social void. Instead, it makes things worse.

During the study, the team surveyed 1,787 young adults, within the 19-32 age bracket. Participants were asked to say how often and how much they use certain social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Researchers measured the perceived social isolation through a special tool. They learned that volunteers who use social media more than a couple of hours per day nearly doubled their risk of feeling socially isolated or lonely as compared to their peers that spent less than 30 minutes on social media.

The study also revealed that using social media at least 58 times per week tripled the risk of feeling lonely or socially isolated. Co-author Elizabeth Miller couldn’t tell what caused what: did social media use created the feeling of being socially isolated or was it the other way around?

Dr. Miller thinks that young adults who felt lonely at one point turned to social media.. Even if Dr. Miller is right and social isolation was first, social media did not help address that issue at all.
Image Source: Pixabay


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