How Social Media Increases Loneliness
Updated: Sep 13
Are you aware of the negative effects of spending too much time on social media? Studies suggest a link between time spent using social media that increase loneliness.
What do you think about when you feel lonely? According to a new survey sponsored by The Cigna Health Insurance Company, in 5 Americans experience loneliness. The survey also reveals that odds are high that those with mental illness feel disconnected from others because of their illness. But there is hope.
According to a recent survey sponsored by The Cigna Health Insurance Company, 46% of respondents reported sometimes or always feeling alone. Does social media play a role in this high rate of loneliness? Studies suggest that using Facebook and other social media apps to keep in touch with friends and forge off-line connections can add vitality and community to your life. But if you spend hours every day using these apps mainly as a substitute for real connection, your feelings of loneliness and inadequacy will likely get worse.
We've all been in a public place and opened an app to avoid eye contact with those around us. And it’s common for people with social anxiety to open social media apps to temporarily feel some connection to others. But when they unplug, the feeling of connection dissipates. Furthermore, frequently viewing curated snapshots of other people's lives might leave social media users feeling as if everyone else has a better life, is smarter, funnier, more interesting, has more friends, etc. The impulse to believe this illogical notion can be even stronger for social media users with low self-esteem. The online world might begin to feel like a minefield of potential triggers: from the comparison trap outlined above to obsessively checking if someone has "liked" their post or wished them a happy birthday.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that young adults who spend two hours a day on social media platforms have twice the risk of experiencing social anxiety, compared with those who visit these sites less than nine times a week. The study also found that participants who go online 50 or more times a week have three times the odds of perceived social isolation as those who visit less frequently. The trend isn't limited to young adults—it can affect adults who feel stuck in their routines and unable to find new ways to make friends or foster existing friendships offline.
Check my other blog post to find out how to stop feeling lonely and feel more connected.