Loneliness is a growing problem in the modern world, and it’s easy to blame social media. The truth isn’t that simple.
Cigna, a health insurance company, recently looked into the problem. Their survey shows that loneliness is a growing problem in the USA, and a problem that’s more common among younger generations.
Social media, however, is not directly correlated with loneliness. Here’s Rhitu Chatterjee, reporting for NPR:
However, the Cigna survey didn’t find a correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness. This would on the surface contradict the new findings on screen time, but Brigham Young University psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad says that previous research shows that how people use social media determine its influence on one’s sense of isolation.
“If you’re passively using it, if you’re just scrolling feeds, that’s associated with more negative effects,” she says. “But if you’re using it to reach out and connect to people to facilitate other kinds of in-person interactions, it’s associated with more positive effects.”
We as users need to remember we get to decide how we use these tools. How we use them has a lot to do with what we get. Design choices prompt how we use them, of course, but at the end of the day you’re still in control. Remember that.