Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, are some of the many means of communication that people have in the twenty-first century. Although these social media platforms make it very easy for people to interact with one another, I make it so that people are close to each other but alone at the same time. If people are talking to each other on social media it does not mean they are not lonely, in fact, social media can make people more lonely than if they were physically having a conversation with another person. Modern-day media makes people more lonely. Although the media has ways of bringing people closer together, the overall amount of loneliness that is developed because of the media significantly outweighs any good mental impact on individuals.
In the article “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression” by Melissa Hunt it is shown that people who use social media regularly are more likely to be lonely and become depressed. This article talks about an experiment: “After a week of baseline monitoring, 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania were randomly assigned to either limit Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use to 10 minutes, per platform, per day or to use social media as usual for three weeks.” (Hunt, 2018) and “The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group” (Hunt, 2018)” In this quote, the experiment demonstrates that the more a person uses social media, the higher the chance of being lonely.
Another way that social media makes people lonely is that they might physically be in the same room together, but they might be on social media the whole time and have no interaction. In the article “Tech Disconnect” Brownfield talks about an example given by psychologist, Lori Gottlieb, that her daughter and two friends were together in the same room but they were each focused on their cell phones and not physically interacting. Lori Gottlieb says “Groups of people are ostensibly spending time together but are actually alone in their devices.” (Brownfield, 2019)
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Social media usage and low-quality family communication leads to loneliness. In the article “The Role of Family and Computer-Mediated Communication in Adolescent Loneliness” by Lindsay Favotto, she explains how social media by itself can be mentally harmful. Lindsay also explains that computer-mediated communication combined with poor family and friend communication can be even more detrimental. “Based on the established association between strong family relationships and positive health outcomes, we speculated that engagement in various methods of CMC (e.g., internet, messaging) for daily contact with friends, as well as low quality of family communication, would each increase feelings of loneliness.” (Favotto, 2019) Favotto explains how strong relationships can protect adolescent minds from the harm caused by social media. “Strong family relationships protect youth from experiencing a wide range of adversities and mental health problems, including loneliness, and yet use of CMC to contact peers may leave adolescents feeling disconnected and lonely while also limiting the amount of time they spend with their family.” (Favotto, 2019) Lindsay explains how friends and family can protect the minds of the youth; however if the usage of computer-mediated communication is also the form of communication between these relationships, both the computer-mediated communication and the relationship can cause loneliness. Lindsay writes, “Based on the established association between strong family relationships and positive health outcomes, we speculated that engagement in various methods of CMC (e.g., internet, messaging) for daily contact with friends, as well as low quality of family communication, would each increase feelings of loneliness.” (Favotto, 2019)
Although social media can be detrimental to people’s minds it has positively impacted some individual’s health. “Loneliness has far-reaching implications in an aging world and contributes to a 26% increase in mortality” (Jarvis, 2019) says Mary Ann Jarvis in the article “This Phone Saved My Life’: Older Persons’ Experiences and Appraisals of an MHealth Intervention Aimed at Addressing Loneliness.” In this article, Jarvis explains “This qualitative study aimed to explore older persons’ experiences and appraisals of the utility of a mHealth intervention for reducing their sense of loneliness. Participants (n = 13; 86.42% females; age range 65 to 87 years) received training in the use of a smartphone and a social networking application (WhatsApp).” (Jarvis, 2019)
This is a study about the elderly who are lonely using the social media platform, WhatsApp, an instant messaging app, to communicate with others resulted in reduced loneliness. Jarvis states “Mobile phones and social networking appear to reduce loneliness experienced” (Jarvis, 2019) Mary Ann is saying that the use of social platforms by elderly people has the ability to make them less lonely. Mary Ann Jarvis says that social media is not the blame for loneliness but that social isolation is a contributor to loneliness, “Loneliness is not necessarily a sequential outcome of social isolation, but social isolation is a primary factor contributing to loneliness” (Jarvis, 2019) In the article “Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults” written by Chloe Berryman, it is explained how the quality of the usage of social media rather than the quantity is what determines the level of loneliness. Berryman writes, “Research results from individual studies regarding social media impacts on mental health have, in fact, been mixed. Although much of the public narrative on the effects of social media implies that mere exposure is related to mental health issues, the best evidence suggests that quality rather than quantity of use is more crucial” (Berryman, 2018) Chloe is saying that what it is that people are being exposed to on social media counts for more than the quantity of the intake when it comes to feeling lonely.
Modern-day social media is the cause of loneliness, although it is a great way to communicate with family and friends. Social media has made it possible to be close to one another while also being absent. People may seem like they are interacting with one and another even though they really are not because they are lost in their phones on social media. When people spend all their time on social media and are severely lacking physical communication with friends and family, it can cause them to be lonely and it could also lead to more mental illness. The longer people are on social media the less time they have to interact with their families and that also means that they will have less time to meet new people and potentially make new friends. Overall human interaction is going to be the best way to feel better if you have feelings of loneliness. Having interactions with your friends is a great way to make yourself feel better because human interaction is naturally a human need and there is no way for someone to get that on a social media platform. By limiting the usage of social media loneliness will be reduced and that will allow for more quality communication with our loved ones. The idea of social media can have the ability to make you think that you will be more connected to people when in reality you are separated by a screen.