Loneliness linked to increase social media use

By Bill Levesque • Published: February 15th, 2018
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re feeling a little blue and lonely, new research indicates a good tonic may be to stop doing something that many people find addictive: Engaging in social media.

A study tracking 579 students at Brigham Young University found that a student’s feeling of loneliness and depression increased the more time he or she spent scrolling through social media sites. The average age of the group was 22, and the students spent between 45 and 150 minutes on social media daily.

The study reinforces previous research findings that suggest we tend to feel more socially isolated when we read the latest posts of friends and acquaintances. That seems counterintuitive. After all, common sense tells us social media should forge connections for people in likeminded, supportive networks.

The study noted, however, that as students viewed the posts, especially those involving someone’s social life, they begin to think their own lives fall short of the ideal. But they may not realize posts showing friends leading happy, fulfilled lives are merely snapshots of great moments and do not reflect all that is going on in someone’s life.

All this can have health consequences. The feeling of perceived social isolation has been associated with increased illness.

The study also found participants spending the longest time on social media tended to lack motivation and often had trouble sleeping.

Women used social media more often than men, and they expressed more loneliness in the study. For both sexes, being single increased loneliness. But when students engaged with other people, in person, the blues fled and loneliness lifted.

So next time you feel lonely and blue, put your phone down and seek out loved ones to talk with in person.