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Study shows social media is making us lonely

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Hanging out with actual people is where it’s really at.

Social media – it’s our main form of communication. Whether we’re Snapchatting with a mate, ‘gramming a delish dish or Facebooking a fad, we’re connecting with people and our communities.

But savvy as we are online, we’re also aware social media isn’t always the most social place.

We’ve known for a while that people have said they actually feel less connected through social media, that it affects their attention span, as well as studies that show an increase in FOMO-related feelings: anxiety, depression or feelings of worthlessness.

On top of this comes new research from the University of Pittsburgh which has revealed social media can also increase loneliness.

The study surveyed the social media habits of 1787 adults between the ages of 19 and 32 using 11 of the most popular social media sites at the time the research was conducted in 2014: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pintrest, Vine and LinkedIn.

The findings showed those using social media for more than two hours a day experienced greater feelings of loneliness and isolation – regardless other social and demographic variables between them.

Study lead Professor Brian Primark explained we’re driven by a powerful need to connect, and socialising is dependent on contact.

“As humans, we are very social creatures. Our biology has evolved over time to need true social interaction – things like eye contact, touch and verbal discussion.”

Fortunately for us, Prof Primack doesn’t suggest ditching social media altogether, and instead recommends a more mindful approach.

“Hopefully the knowledge that there can be emotional risks associated with its use may help individuals to make better choices about the extent to which they use social media and the way in which they use it.”

Photo: Getty Images

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