Could your social media habit be ruining your social life—and maybe even damaging your mental health?
In theory, social media is a great way to stay connected with other people. After all, how else would you have reconnected with that girl you used to hate in preschool, or the guy you waved at one time in high school?
We jest, of course, but many of us rely heavily on social media to cultivate, reignite, or maintain social relationships.
However, we may be doing ourselves a disservice. A significant study from the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh found a remarkable association between social media use and feelings of social isolation.
The study focused on young adults (up to age 32), but the results are eye-opening for those of us in any age group. You might think that the heaviest users of social media felt the most connected, but the study found the opposite to be true.
Those who spent more than two hours per day on social media were twice as likely to experience feelings of social isolation than those who spent 30 minutes or less per day on social media.
Does that mean that cutting down on your social media consumption will improve your feelings of connectedness? Not necessarily. And the study didn’t attempt to prove causation.
But one thing is for sure: research has demonstrated time and time again that face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with an individual’s wellbeing.
So whether or not you plan to start cutting down on your social media use, you might want to consider investing time in offline relationships. Your social life and your mental health will thank you. Now go schedule a coffee or dinner with someone.