Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram may help people stay connected with their families or friends, but individuals who spend excess amounts of time scrolling through social media can actually feel much more alone, according to a new study.
The more often a younger person spends their time browsing through social media, the higher the chance is that they will feel socially isolated, say psychologists in the University of Pittsburgh.
Affects of Social Media
A lot of time spent on apps or sites such as Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and Snapchat “may elicit feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and more successful lives”, said the study published on the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“We do not yet know which came first-the social media use or the perceived social isolation,” stated the senior author of the study, Dr Elizabeth Miller.
“It’s possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world. It also could be a combination of both. But even if the social isolation came first, it did not seem to be alleviated by spending time online, even in purportedly social situations.”
Researchers also discovered that participants that had used social media over two hours per day had double the chances of being socially isolated than peers who spend less than an hour on these sites daily.
“This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults,” said another lead author in the report, Brian A. Primack.
“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.”
The study polled 1,787 adults between the ages of 19-32, and used a type of questionnaire in order to determine the amount of social media they use per day a measure social isolation with an assessment tool.