Is Social Media Making Us Less Social? (2023)

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In an age where we are becoming more connected through social media every day, it sometimes feels like we are also becoming less social.

Why go through all of the inconvenience of meeting up in person when you can simply catch up online?

Within the last decade, technology has profoundly shifted the nature of human communication.

Some say we are “hyper-social,” always connected and communicating with multiple people at the same time.Others would say we have become “anti-social,” glued to our devices, and lacking interpersonal skills.So which is it?

Is social media making us less social?

Social Media is making us less social when used to compare oneselfto others, contributing to higher levels of loneliness and lower levels of well-being among frequent users. It can be social when used to connect with others.

Let’s take a look at the research.

Also, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, you can check out myresource pagefor suggestions on how to find help.

(Video) Social Media is Making Us Unsocial | Kristin Gallucci | TEDxBocaRaton

Social Media Contributes to Social Isolation

The first study looking at this phenomenon was published in 1998, around the time when many people were starting to use the internet.

The researchers followed 169 people during the first two years of their internet use to determine if this new technology made them more social or less social, finding:

“…greater use of the Internet was associated with declines in participants’ communication with family members in the household, declines in the size of their social circle, and increases in their depression and loneliness.”

This was seen as quite the paradox, given that the individuals were using the internet extensively as a communication technology.

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social? (1)

A 2004 study comparing internet use to face-to-face interaction found a similar conclusion, stating:

…the Internet can decrease social well-being, even though it is often used as a communication tool.

Has anything changed since then?

Ten years later, a 2014 studyon college students suffering from internet addiction found:

Results show that excessive and unhealthy Internet use would increase feelings of loneliness over time…[.] This study also found that online social contacts with friends and family were not an effective alternative for offline social interactions in reducing feelings of loneliness.

In her recent book,iGen, Jean Twenge writes about the generation born after 1994, finding high rates of mental health issues and isolation:

(Video) How social media makes us unsocial | Allison Graham | TEDxSMU

“A stunning 31% more 8th and 10th graders felt lonely in 2015 than in 2011, along with 22% more 12th graders”…[.] All in all, iGen’ers are increasingly disconnected from human relationships.

She argues the increasing level of screen-time and decreasing degree of in-person interaction leaves igen lacking social skills:

“In the next decade we may see more young people who know just the right emoji for a situation—but not the right facial expression.”

A 2016 study comments on this generational phenomenon, stating:

It is surprising then that, in spite of this enhanced interconnectivity, young adults may be lonelier than other age groups, and that the current generation may be the loneliest ever.

The correlation between internet use and isolation is fairly established in the literature. But let’s not paint the whole internet with the same brush.

A 2014 studyhighlights the psychological costs and benefits derived from social media use, stating:

…online tools create a paradox for social connectedness. On one hand, they elevate the ease in which individuals may form and create online groups and communities, but on the other, they can create a source of alienation and ostracism.

It turns out the answer may be a bit more complicated.

Let’s take a look at the specific factors that make the difference.

Social Media Can Be Social (If used to connect)

A 2016 study with the apt subtitle, “Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words,” finds that image-based social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat may be able to decrease loneliness because of the higher levels of intimacy they provide.

(Video) Does Social media make us less social?

Another 2016 study, specifically looking at Instagram use, found that it isn’t the platform that matters. It is the way the platform is used that matters.

The researchers studied Instagram use among 208 undergraduate students, finding there was one thing that made all the difference:“the social comparison orientation.”

What is social comparison orientation?

It’s when you compare yourself to others on social media. For example, you may find yourself passively scanning through an endless feed of finely curated photos, wishing you had a different body, a different job, a differentlife!

It’s the sense that everyone has it better than you, and that you’re missing out on all of the best events, vacations, and products.

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social? (2)

Students who rated high on social comparison orientation were more likely to widely broadcast their posts in an attempt to gain status. Students who rated low were more likely to use the platform to connect with others meaningfully.

A 2008 study on internet use among older adults supports this distinction, finding:

…greater use of the Internet as a communication tool was associated with a lower level of social loneliness. In contrast, greater use of the Internet to find new people was associated with a higher level of emotional loneliness.

Using the internet as a communication tool can decrease loneliness.

Experimental evidence in a 2004 study, highlights this by measuring a person’s level of loneliness throughout multiple intervals as they engage in an online chat. They concluded:

(Video) Is Social Media Making Us Less Social?

Internet use was found to decrease loneliness and depression significantly, while perceived social support and self-esteem increased significantly.

Although chatting online can decrease loneliness, what about using social media platforms to post status updates?

A 2012 studyconducted an experiment to determine if posting a Facebook status increases or decreases loneliness. Yes, this is an actual experiment.

The researchers told one group of participants to increase their number of status updates for one week. They didn’t give any instructions to a second control group. Results revealed:

(1) that the experimentally induced increase in status updating activity reduced loneliness, (2) that the decrease in loneliness was due to participants feeling more connected to their friends on a daily basis, and (3) that the effect of posting on loneliness was independent of direct social feedback (i.e., responses) by friends.

These results may seem to contradict the previous finding that social media broadcasting is correlated with increased loneliness, but there is a crucial difference: the social comparison orientation.

In this experiment, the researchers did not differentiate between users who had high or low levels of social comparison. The users in the group being told to update their status more frequently were not told to scan their news feeds more often, nor was their social media use manipulated to alter their level of social comparison.


So what is the key lesson here?

Using social media in a way that connects us with others can make us less lonely and more social.

Unfortunately, as social media use increases, we are becoming lonelier.

This trend suggests we may not be using social media in the most social ways, comparing ourselves to others. In addition, we may be sacrificing in-person interaction for the convenience of social media interaction. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of experiencing social isolation.

(Video) "Is social media making us less social?"

If you are interested in reading more on the psychology of social media, you can check out my comprehensive post on the topic here: Why We Are Addicted To Social Media: The Psychology of Likes.

In that article, I go deep into the research on what keeps our brains hooked on social media likes and how you can use social media in a healthier way.


Is social media is making us less social? ›

It's something everyone suspected, but now it's official: The under-30 crowd is addicted to their cell phones. Those are the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it's causing them to be less social in real life.

Why does social media make people less social? ›

Is social media making us less social? Social Media is making us less social when used to compare oneself to others, contributing to higher levels of loneliness and lower levels of well-being among frequent users. It can be social when used to connect with others.

Is social media making us less social disadvantages? ›

Social media is making us a little less social. Social networking is making us antisocial in many indirect and not so obvious ways. Yes it is true that it has given us ways to reach out to a larger set of people and redefined the way we interact with each other. It helped us to know about how different people think.

Is social media actually making us more social? ›

However, at the individual level, more social media use was positively associated with more in-person social interaction. The study also found that adolescents who spent the most time on social media and the least time in face-to-face social interactions reported the most loneliness.

Is social media making us less social essay? ›

Social media has made us less social because everyone has to live in this digital world and they have to share the informations using the social media. By using the social media we can find the new friends and they will help to us. Most of the people spending their half of the time in social medias only.

What are Negative Impact of social media? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

How do social media affect you socially? ›

The negative aspects of social media

However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of social media? ›

Top 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media
Pros of Social MediaCons of Social Media
People Can Connect Through Social MediaReduces Face-to-face Communication Skills
Good Source of Up-to-Date InformationFake News
Social Media Is Beneficial to EducationPeople's Addiction to Social Media
7 more rows
14 Jun 2022

Does social media do more harm than good? ›

Studies have shown that increased use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok is leading to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only pushed more people to the platforms but has also caused people to spend unusual amounts of time cruising their feeds.

What are the disadvantages of media? ›

Disadvantages of media
  • It contributes to individualism. ...
  • As a consequence, it is affected by social interactions with friends, relatives and neighbours.
  • Some content in the media is not appropriate for children.
  • It can be tough to restrict children's access to certain stuff.
  • Papers are geographically limited.

What are the disadvantages of social media essay? ›

It is harmful because it invades your privacy like never before. The oversharing happening on social media makes children a target for predators and hackers. It also leads to cyberbullying which affects any person significantly. Thus, the sharing on social media especially by children must be monitored at all times.

How social media affects our everyday life? ›

Due to the open transparency and constant accessibility of social media, you may also feel anxiety related to a lack of privacy. On top of that, social media often gives us the sense that we're socializing without actually allowing us to socialize the way we do best—with in-person, direct conversations.

Is social media is really social? ›

Millions of people around the world use social media every day, every hour, every minute to stay in touch with friends and family. And yet, social media isn't always very social. Studies show that people who spend more time on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat may feel more socially isolated than people who don't.

Is social media good for society? ›

The truth is that social media can also be beneficial for society. It can help individuals connect and deepen their relationships. Social media also encourages students to learn and grow. And it can empower businesses to build their audiences and boost their bottom line.

Does online technology make us more or less sociable? ›

Although online technology can facilitate purely positive behavior (e.g., charitable giving) or purely negative behavior (e.g., cyberbullying), it appears to affect sociability in three ways, depending on whether it allows a deeper understanding of people's thoughts and feelings: (a) It benefits sociability when it ...

What are benefits of social media? ›

Here are five benefits of using social media:
  • Build relationships. Social media is not just about brands connecting with their customers. ...
  • Share your expertise. Social media gives you an opportunity to talk about what you know and what you want to be known for. ...
  • Increase your visibility. ...
  • Educate yourself. ...
  • Connect anytime.
22 Apr 2014

Why is social media a problem? ›

The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate. Social Media is addicting. When you're playing a game or accomplishing a task, you seek to do it as well as you can.

What are 5 negatives of social media? ›

7 Negative Effects of Social Media on People and Users
  • Depression and Anxiety. Do you spend several hours per day browsing through social media? ...
  • Cyberbullying. Image Credit: HighwayStarz/Depositphotos. ...
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) ...
  • Unrealistic Expectations. ...
  • Negative Body Image. ...
  • Unhealthy Sleep Patterns. ...
  • General Addiction.

How social media affects students? ›

It is easy to become addicted, and research shows that students who spend too much time on social media can suffer from poor sleep, eye fatigue, negative body image, depression, anxiety, cyberbullying, and more.

How does media affect your personal life? ›

Many studies have shown that social media has negative impacts on mental health causing signs of stress, depression, anxiety, etc. There are many cases registered in the cyber for misusing information and for cyberbullying. It impacts one's self-esteem and drags one's confidence to the low bottom.

Has social media been a positive or negative influence on society? ›

Social media has had a huge impact on society, especially on a person's mental health over time. It's changed the way we communicate and the way we frame the narrative of our lives. There are many positive aspects of social media, but there's also a darker side to the endless scroll that keeps coming back for more.

Is social media good or bad debate points? ›

Social media is a great way to connect with people who you may not see all the time. It's also great for making friends. Social media helps you build connections with kids who have the same interests. It is a quick way for people to get to know each other, even if they're living across the world from one another.

How does social media affect mental health? ›

When people look online and see they're excluded from an activity, it can affect thoughts and feelings, and can affect them physically. A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance.

What are the disadvantages of social media in education? ›

5 cons of having social media in the classroom
  • Social media can be a distraction in class. ...
  • Improper use of social media in the classroom. ...
  • Using social media in the classroom can detract from human interaction. ...
  • Cyber bullying on social media websites. ...
  • Posting inappropriate content on social media websites.
21 Feb 2014

What is the impact of social media in the one's self esteem? ›

While social media is sometimes touted to combat loneliness, a significant body of research suggests it may have the opposite effect. By triggering comparison with others, it can raise doubts about self-worth, potentially leading to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Is media useful or harmful? ›

There is no definitive answer to whether mass media is "good" or "bad". Research has shown that it can have both positive and negative effects, and often these effects are dependent on how the media is being used and consumed.

What is social media for essay? ›

Social media is the communal interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities. It has become the basic need and quality of human beings to be social.

What are the pros and cons of social media for students? ›

  • 6 Pros & Cons Of Social Media In The Classroom. contributed by Aimee Hosler.
  • Engaged students are more successful. ...
  • Social media teaches important life lessons. ...
  • It's 'real world' ...
  • The Internet is a new medium for bullying. ...
  • Social media can be a time suck.
  • The Internet is a dangerous place.

What are pros and cons of media? ›

Media: 10 Advantages and 10 Disadvantages of Media
  • Advantages. It educates people. Through television and radio programs, people get to learn about health matters, environmental conservation, and much more. ...
  • Disadvantages. It leads to individualism. ...
  • Conclusion: Although media has many advantages it also has its limits.
8 Jul 2016

How does social media negatively affect relationships? ›

Social media can also impact relationships by decreasing attention and quality of time spent together. According to a recent study, negative effects of social media on relationships are distraction, irritation, and decreased quality time.

Why is social media not a good method to communicate a position? ›

Employees may engage in harassing behaviors toward co-workers on a social network, and HR will need to take action if it becomes aware of such behaviors. Negative exposure. Postings from former or current employees, or even clients casting the employer in a negative light, may damage the employer's reputation.

What are the uses and abuses of social media? ›

Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you. Puts you down in their status updates. Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return. Pressures you to send explicit videos.

Is social media good or bad essay introduction? ›

Some people take undue advantage of social media to blackmail people,spread rumours or false news,torture others. Social media can also lead to depression,loneliness,violence. So,social media has both advantages as well as disadvantages.It depends on us,whether to use it in a good or a bad way!

What are the challenges in using social media? ›

7 Common Social Media Challenges And How To Overcome Them
  • 1) Creating a social strategy that performs. ...
  • 2) Proving your social media ROI. ...
  • 3) Keeping up to date. ...
  • 4) Improving social media engagement. ...
  • 5) Growing your social media following. ...
  • 6) Building authentic connections. ...
  • 7) Making sure your visuals are on point.
16 Jun 2021

What is the disadvantages of digital media? ›

The downsides to using digital media are Cybercrime, physical damage, and privacy. Cybercrimes include hacking into personal information such as passwords, bank details, and credit card numbers.

What is social media in your own words? ›

Social media is an internet-based form of communication. Social media platforms allow users to have conversations, share information and create web content.

Is social media good for students? ›

Social media plays an important role in every student's life. It is often easier and more convenient to access information, provide information and communicate via social media. Tutors and students can be connected to each other and can make good use of these platforms for the benefit of their learning and teaching.

Is social media making us more depressed? ›

A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance. Social media use can affect users' physical health even more directly.

Are smartphones making us less social? ›

Smartphones are getting a bum rap. The common perception that as people become increasingly attached to their devices they are becoming less social is just wrong, according to Stanford communication scholar Gabriella Harari.

Does modern social media make people less socially active debate for? ›

It closes people off from reality making them less eager to engage in that reality in fear of not being able to stand up with social media standards. But some may argue that social media doesn't isolate teens but rather can make new relationships and can expand social circles.

Does social media make us more connected or more isolated? ›

Key points. Social media capitalizes on isolation by "separating" us from friends, then making us want to check on what these friends are doing. Connecting on social media creates more disconnection. Being on social media actually isolates us from our real-life networks.

How social media affect our life? ›

The negative aspects of social media

However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance.

How does social media affect society? ›

Social Media is relatively a newer technology, hence, it is a little difficult to establish its long-term good and bad consequences. However, multiple researchers have concluded a strong relationship between heavy use of social media platforms with an increase in risk of depression, self-harm, anxiety, and loneliness.

Does social media cause more harm than good? ›

Studies have shown that increased use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok is leading to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only pushed more people to the platforms but has also caused people to spend unusual amounts of time cruising their feeds.

How are phones making us less social? ›

Smartphones make us antisocial

“The more time that kids spend on digital devices, the less empathetic they are, and the less they are able to process and recognise facial expressions, so their ability to actually communicate with each other is decreased.”

How phones affect social skills? ›

If you put a cell phone into a social interaction, it does two things: First, it decreases the quality of what you talk about, because you talk about things where you wouldn't mind being interrupted, which makes sense, and, secondly, it decreases the empathic connection that people feel toward each other.

What are the negative effects of smartphones? ›

Results: Comorbidity with depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD and alcohol use disorder. Excessive smartphone use is associated with difficulties in cognitive-emotion regulation, impulsivity, impaired cognitive function, addiction to social networking, shyness and low self-esteem.

How the internet affects social isolation? ›

Social Isolation

The study found that the more time people spend on the Internet, the less time they spend communicating with other people. In particular, 27% of heavy Internet users report spending less time talking to friends and family over the phone.


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