This Is Why Social Media Is Actually Terrible For Your Social Life
Millennials spend all their days connected to the Internet, but they’re lonelier than ever
Social media was created to bring people together, but according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh, it might have the opposite effect, especially on millennials.
Specifically, the study found that young people (ages 19 to 32) who spent two hours or more per day on social media had twice the odds of feeling lonely and isolated than their peers who spent less time on social media.
This study isn’t the first to examine the association between social media and social isolation, but it is the first large-scale study to do so. Lead study author Brian Primack, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, recruited 1,800 people from across the U.S. to answer a questionnaire about how often they used Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Vine, Snapchat, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tumblr. People who visited social platforms more than 58 times per week had more than three times the odds of perceived social isolation than those who visited fewer than nine times per week.
However, Primack told NPR that the study can’t prove causation. “You might watch all these interactions where it seems like everyone else is connecting,” he said. In other words, watching all your friends constantly tweeting about their glamorous vacations might make FOMO rear its ugly head — or it might be that when people are lonely, they’re drawn to social media. It’s impossible to say which came first.
Primack also noted that the study was conducted very specifically with young people in mind, and that the results can’t be generalized to other generations.
This doesn’t mean you have to log off Facebook forever, but the next time you’re tempted to leave a comment or ‘Like’ someone’s photo, pick up the phone or meet them for dinner and tell them in person.