Using social media can make you feel more lonely, claims new study

Experts have long theorised that a causal connection existed between the two but this has never been proven conclusively claim researchers

Experts have long theorised that a causal connection existed between the two but this has never been proven conclusively claim researchers

While many of these have drawn a connection between the use of social media and mental health issues, many studies have only been able to conclude correlation rather than causation. Avoiding comparing your life to the way other people portray their own online may also help to break this link, they reported.

Research conducted at the university of Pennsylvania, by the collective of researchers Melissa G. Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson, and Jordyn Young.

"It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely", she says. However, people were given a choice either to follow the limit or to use the apps as they generally would.

"In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life", she continued.

Researchers from Swansea University in the United Kingdom and Milan University in Italy also assessed the participants' usage of social media-including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat-during that same period. They then collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running the background. The data was drawn from 143 volunteers, who were requested to complete a survey which indicated each person's mood and well-being at the beginning of the study together with periodic records of their social media use throughout the study. During the course of the study, the subjects were divided into a control group (with no limitations on social media use) and a study group where time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram was limited to 10 minutes per platform per day.

As a result, the researchers found that loneliness and depression are directly dependent on time spent in social networks.

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Writing in the study, its authors added: 'Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being'.

"Here's the bottom line", she said.

"There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism", said Phil Reed from Swansea University, who led the study.

To determine the wellbeing of the participants, the researchers looked at seven categories: social support (or how strong an offline social network someone has), fear of missing out, loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and autonomy and self-acceptance (how much someone worries about what others think of them, and how comfortable they are with themselves).

She further stressed that the findings do not suggest that 18 to 22-year-olds should stop using social media altogether.

In fact, she built the study as she did to stay away from what she considers an unrealistic goal.

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