Social Media Use Found to be Related to Increased Social Isolation
Parents, educators, and mental health professionals have seen an alarming rise in anxiety. You may have felt it yourself. As many know I am a psychologist, I am often asked for my opinion regarding why this is so. I have shared my opinion, but really, it’s not just my opinion. The research helps shed some light on why this is happening. We are losing what makes us human, and that is the connection we feel during REAL LIFE human social interactions.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the more time people spend on the sites that were meant to help them feel more connected actually makes them feel more alone! Psychologists have several theories to explain why. One is that social media use simply takes the place of authentic, real-life experiences because the more time a person spends on social media, the less time that person has left for real-life human social interactions. Another is that seeing pictures of friends spending time at an event to which you were not invited encourages feelings of exclusion and loneliness. Also, being exposed to others’ idealized representations of themselves makes others feel that their own life does not quite measure up (social comparison theory). This is not rocket science. This is common sense, but real science is demonstrating that the negative impact is real. People are feeling more and more lonely and isolated. This contributes to a decline in mental health.
It’s all about balance. Social media is not going away, and in some ways, it does help us form connections. But the key is not to let it replace real life interactions.
So what to do about it… CONNECT
- Make a plan to walk with a friend.
- Call an old friend.
- Hire a babysitter and go out on “date night”, or Girls or Guys Night Out.
- Make a schedule to get together with friends on a regular basis for a coffee meet up.
- Get involved in a group sport, activity, or hobby. Even people who engage in what are typically “individual” hobbies, such as knitting or beading, can get together in groups for social connection.
I would love to hear some of your ideas to remain connected. What can you commit to doing today, or this week?