Has social media increased the social isolation?
Your social media use has a profound impact on your health and wellbeing. Social media by design is about connecting people and forging interactions. But are your social experiences positive or are they leading to social isolation? Perceived social isolation (PSI) is a synonym for loneliness and is associated with poor health outcomes such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. As social media is so pervasive, it’s important to understand how positive and negative experiences on social media are related to perceived social isolation.
The researchers found that for every 10 per cent increase in negative experiences, there was a 13 per cent increase in feelings of loneliness.
Researchers surveyed 1178 students from West Virginia University. Their ages ranged from 10 to 30 years. The students were asked about their social media use, to what extent were their experiences positive or negative and their level of perceived loneliness. The researchers assessed their perceptions of social media interactions across all combinations of platforms used by the students.
The researchers found that for every 10 per cent increase in negative experiences, there was a 13 per cent increase in feelings of loneliness. But this association was not seen when participants had positive experiences. For every 10 per cent increase in positive experiences on social media, the participants did not report any significant change in feelings of loneliness.
The findings are consistent with the concept of the negativity bias, which suggests that humans tend to give greater weight to negative experiences and traits compared to positive ones. This may be particularly relevant in a social media setting where negative experiences tend to leave a lasting negative impression, while positive experiences leave an impact for a very short time. It’s important for you to be aware of the positive and negative experiences you may encounter on social media and the impact it can have on you. Negative social media experiences can be damaging and lead to higher social isolation and loneliness.
Source: American Journal of Health Promotion
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