ALERT: Young Adults Spending Too Much Time on Social Media More Likely to Feel Social Isolation
A new study led by scientists from the University Of Pittsburg School Of Medicine revealed that young adults who spent more time on social media were at increase risk of feeling socially isolated.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed a link between the time and frequency of social media usage and the feeling of social isolation, which is defined as the lacking the sense of social belonging, true engagement with others and fulfilling relationships.
"This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults," Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., director of Pitt's Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health and lead author of the study, in a press release. We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize 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."
For the study, the researchers enrolled 1,787 adults in the United States with age ranging from 19 to 32. The researchers used questionnaires to determine how long and how often each participant spend on 11 most popular social media platforms in 2014, the year when the study was conducted. The social media platforms included in the study were Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.
Using a validated assessment tool called the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, the researchers measured participants' perceived social isolation. The researchers found that participants who use social media for two or more hours a day were two times more likely to perceive social isolation, compared to those who only spend less than half an hour each day.
Furthermore, participants who visited various social media platforms 58 times or more in a week were three times more likely to perceive social isolation, compared to those who only visited social media platforms fewer than nine times a week.
The researchers noted that they were not sure what came first. It is possible that the participants spend more time in social media because of social isolation. Another possibility is that the increase use of social media is the main reason of their social isolation.