Asset Publisher

Article

Loneliness and social media: why do we feel lonely in the most crowded spaces in the world?

Rui Miguel Costa, Filipa Pimenta, Alexandra Ferreira-Valente, Centro de Investigação William James, Ispa - Instituto Universitário, Lisbon, Portugal; Ivone Patrão, APPsyCI, Ispa - Instituto Universitário,Lisbon, Portugal;
Project selected in the Flash Call “Technology and Society”

Online social media usage may become compulsive and disrupt many aspects of life, such as attention to others, work productivity, sleep quality, and mental well-being. This is frequently referred to as "social media addiction". There is evidence that, often, this may lead to feelings of loneliness and negative emotional states, even among people who do have satisfactory in-person relationships. We decided to conduct a study to explore this phenomenon, based on a Portuguese sample of 4,782 respondents to an online survey. The results showed that dissatisfaction in relationships with partners, family, and friends does not fully explain why this phenomenon occurs. One possible hypothesis is that addicted social networkers experience disappointment on social media more frequently than their non-addicted counterparts, regardless of how satisfied they are with their in-person relationships. This may lead to loneliness, because humans are intrinsically motivated to expand their social connections beyond their face-to-face relationship group. Yet, when they are not reciprocated, loneliness emerges, even if they have satisfactory personal relationships.
Key points
  • 1
       Our results confirmed that the association between perceived loneliness and social media addiction is independent of satisfaction with personal relationships (friends, family, partner).
  • 2
       On average, social networkers feel lonelier than the few individuals who do not use social media (4.4%), but the difference was very small.
  • 3
       Individuals highly addicted to social media were more likely to report that being on social media triggers negative feelings.
  • 4
       The association between social media and perceived loneliness was explained, partly, by the negative feelings triggered by social media: mainly disappointment, and, to a lesser degree, negative social comparisons.

Classification

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Article

Why don’t we offer the same help to all victims of cyberbullying?

This article highlights that both traditional bullying and cyberbullying have a large audience. Observant people can influence behaviour, either by encouraging or stopping aggression.

Article

Digitalisation, automation, and the Portuguese labour market

This article builds on research that seeks to address the impact of digital transformation on jobs and employment, from an analysis focused on the labour market in Portugal. In order to explore the impact of digitalisation on the Portuguese workforce, the authors analysed the survey data, collected between April and July 2022, from a representative sample of 2,000 active workers in Portugal.

Article

Do Portuguese and Spanish young people use mobile phones differently?

Young people in both countries use mobile phones in similar ways, but there are slight differences between profiles that may influence their well-being.

Article

Cybersecurity in the 1st and 2nd cycles of basic education in Portugal: opinions of teachers and education guardians

The ‘YUCA’ project reveals the urgent need to integrate cybersecurity into school curricula in order to protect and empower young people in Portugal.

You may also find interesting

Subtle signs of racial biases among lower secondary teachers in Portugal

Article

Subtle signs of racial biases among lower secondary teachers in Portugal


Social Inclusion

Is there racial prejudgement in Portuguese secondary schools?

“BlindGame”: The online gambling activities of Portuguese young people

Article

“BlindGame”: The online gambling activities of Portuguese young people


Social Inclusion

A study of 2,028 young people aged between 15 and 34 in Portugal revealed a significant prevalence of online gambling behaviour, with gender and age differences. The results indicate concerns for parents, educators and public authorities due to the growing uptake of this form of entertainment.

Why don’t we offer the same help to all victims of cyberbullying?

Article

Why don’t we offer the same help to all victims of cyberbullying?


Social Inclusion

This article highlights that both traditional bullying and cyberbullying have a large audience. Observant people can influence behaviour, either by encouraging or stopping aggression.