A new study on young adults revealed that the more time you spend staring at your smartphone, the lonelier you might feel.
“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together,” said Brian Primack, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aimed at determining how exactly social media affect our mental health.
The research found that the incessant use of social networks is associated with low self-esteem.
A real challenge for researchers was knowing if social media cause us to feel lonely, or they just exacerbate feelings that we already have.
“It’s possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world,” Elizabeth Miller, a senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at Pitt, said. “It also could be a combination of both.”
Participants filled out questionnaires to determine how often, and for how long, they use the 11 most popular social media platforms.
Researchers found that participants who used social media more than two hours a day perceived a greater social isolation than their peers who spent less than 30 minutes a day on social media.
The experts articulated a few theories for how the use of social media could lead people to social isolation, including having less time for real-world interactions, feeling excluded by some aspects of social media, and portraying a distorted reality by sharing edited pictures, thus sparking envy.