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of Social Media Use and Social Isolation

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                                              Missouri Western State University








Within the last decade there has
been an increase in the use of social media sites that connect people around
the world. Since so many people spend more time on their phones instead of
engaging with others face to face it could lead to social isolation. The
objective is to determine if social media use can lead to perceived social
isolation amongst adolescence. Social networking sites (SNS) has been related
to cyberbullying and people’s views on body image but more recent studies
examined the lack of socializing face- to-face and developing a false sense of
connection with people online.  Social isolation is made of two constructs
which are objective and subjective isolation. Objective isolation is when
people experience lack of social ties. Subjective isolation is when you hardly
engage with others. Results show young adults with high social media use feel
more socially isolated than their peers.

Keywords: social isolation, social networking
sites, social media, objective isolation, loneliness.












young adults social networking sites are an easy and fun way to gain new
relationships and also maintain preexisting ones with friends and family.
Social media has reshaped the way that young adults interact with one another
and can be influential when exposing users to different beliefs, ideas, or
opinions. However, it is possible that interacting online leads to more harm
than interacting face- to-face. When an individual lacks fulfilling relationships
and social belonging this is social isolation. Which can effect immune
function, mental health, and disrupt sleep. Social isolation can also lead to
mortality and morbidity (Primack et al., 2017). These articles will examine if
social media use leads to social isolation amongst adolescence. The different
types of interactions on social networking sites and any gender differences
will also be examined.

Social Media Use Leads to Social

Campbell, and Gilmore (2015), conducted a study to examine different ways users
communicate online and to determine if there is a relationship between anxiety
and loneliness. The amount of time participants spent online was measured with
a 4-item questionnaire. The Five Motive survey was completed to see if
participants were maintaining relationships, social compensation,
entertainment, and meeting new people. Loneliness was measured using UCLA
Loneliness survey (Bonnetti et al. 2015). Results showed subjects that were
lonely but not socially anxious communicated more with people online than
participants who were not anxious or lonely. Adolescents between the age of 11-
13 that reported feeling lonely communicated more with strangers or more likely
to do so (Bonnetti et al. 2015).

is related to social isolation Osborne, Reed, Romano, Truzoil, and Vile (2015) has
conducted a study to support the previous researchers and focuses on internet
use and the relationship with depression, anxiety, social isolation, sleep
deprivation, and immune functions. However, only the relationship between
internet use and social isolation will be examined. Participants had to
estimate how many hours per week they usually spent on the internet. To measure
internet addiction subjects completed the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) which
is a 20- item scale (Osbourne et al., 2015). UCLA Loneliness scale assessed how
socially isolated they felt from their peers or family using a 4-pt scale.
Results showed that excessive internet use was related to social isolation and
female participants tend to use social media more than men. A limitation for
this study is that participants did not distinguish between professional and personal
use (Osbourne et al., 2015).

align with the first and second author findings Primack et al. (2017) focused
on subjective isolation, which is a lack of social connection with others.
Participants were instructed to complete an online survey, which measured
social media use and perceived social isolation.  The participants’
perceived social isolation was measured with a 4-item scale by Patient Reported
Outcomes Information System (PROMIS). Social isolation scale measured whether a
participant often felt disconnected, excluded, avoided, or detached (Primack et
al., 2017).

media use was measured by time and frequency. Participants’ also had to
estimate how much time they spent on social media for personal use only.
Results showed there was an association between social media use and perceived
social isolation (Primack et al., 2017). Participants that used social
networking sites for 120-min per day compared to people that used it 30-minutes
per day doubled their odds of feeling socially isolated. A limitation for this
study is that the users could have felt socially isolated before they decided
to use social networking sites (Primack et al., 2017).

study that supports social media use could lead to social isolation Diego,
Field, Kaplan, Sanders (2000) examined the relationship of excessive internet
use to depression and social isolation among adolescence. Eighty-nine students
from a suburban high school completed a 181–item questionnaire that analyzed
behavioral and psychological aspects of their life. To measure internet use
they had to estimate how many time per day they spent on the internet (Diego et
al., 2000). To see if participants experienced social isolation, to further
understand their relationship with friends, and parent they completed the
Intimacy Scale that contained 24- questions. The results showed that low
internet users had better relationships with their family than high internet
users. Limitations of this study is participants should have stated how often
they use the internet for school versus personal use (Diego et al., 2000).

 Social Media Use Does
Not Lead to Social Isolation

has shown SNS can lead to social isolation however, other research contradicts
this claim. Tabak and Zawadzka (2017) examined the relationship between internet
addiction, loneliness and adolescence quality of life. To measure whether the
adolescents have internet addiction participants completed The Young’s
Diagnostic Questionnaire, which rated them on an 8- point scale. The De Jong
Loneliness scale measured the participant’s level of loneliness. Results showed
that there was a relationship between internet addiction emotional loneliness
and not social loneliness.

addition to the findings of Tabak and Zawadzka (2017), Grant and Shaw (2002)
conducted an experimental design and had participants complete a survey. Social
isolation was measured using the 20- item UCLA Loneliness Scale. Experimental
sessions were posted on a webpage to recruit students. The study consisted of
five internet sessions between anonymous participants and examined the effects
of internet usage with four variables which were loneliness, depression,
self-esteem, perceived social support. A pre-test was completed before the
first chat session, mid test after the second chat session and post-test after
the fifth chat session. Results showed that the internet usage decreased
loneliness and depression significantly overtime. While social support and
self- esteem increased.


that found social media use can lead to social isolation had a larger sample
size and were more recent than the opposing studies. Different factors were
also analyzed in the studies that found a relationship, such as gender
differences and reasons why some adolescents would use social media (Osborne,
Reed, Romano, Truzoil, & Vile, 2015; Bonnetti et al. 2015). However, for
these studies, researchers only used questionnaires and surveys to measure their
variable the opposing studies used experimental designs and surveys. It is
important to recognize that participants are not always truthful and could it
could lead to bias in. The study conducted by Grant and Shaw (2002), had a
small sample size and also is not as recent as the other studies conducted.
When the study was conducted people were not exposed to social media platforms as
much as people are now. Social media sites like Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook
are advertised everywhere and have become more accessible via Smartphones. From
this research I conclude that social media use can lead to emotional isolation
amongst adolescence. 


media users can engage in more discussion groups with people from different backgrounds.
It can also help someone gain more diverse social network. Using social media
sites can be influential when exposing different opinions, ideas, and issues. Users
may form an illusion of companionship with other users who are not actually
real friends or family. Social Networking sites can negatively affect
self-image. While using SNS someone may post photos of their pets, families,
holidays, and even foods which in turn can make people idealize things they do
not have social media gives the illusion that they are living a fabulous life
which as a result can leave a person a person feeling inadequate compared to
others. For some young adults, feeling isolated could have been something they
already experienced prior to using SNS. Future research should analyze each different
social media platforms and understand the different types of relationships
people form with other users one factor could be if their reciprocity within
the relationship or is the user following celebrities without interacting with



















Bonetti, L., Campbell, M. A., &
Gilmore, L. (2010). The Relationship of Loneliness and Social Anxiety with
Children’s and Adolescent’s Online Communication. Cyberpsychology,
Behavior, & Social Networking, 13(3), 279-285.

Diego, M., Field, T.M., Kaplan, M.,
& Sanders, C.E. (2000) The relationship of internet use to depression and
social isolation among adolescents. Adolescence, 35(138), 237-242.
Retrieved from

Grant, L.M., Shaw, L.M. (2002). In
defense of the internet: the relationship between internet communication and
depression, loneliness, self- esteem, and perceived social support. Cyber
Psychology and Behavior, 5(2), 157-171. Accessed 11 October 2017.

Osborne, L.A., Reed, P., Romano, M.,
Truzoil, K., & Vile, R. (2015). Problematic internet usage and immune
function. Plos one, 10(8), 162-178. Accessed 5 October 2017.

 Tabak, I., & Zawadzka, D. (2017)
Loneliness and Internet addiction of Polish adolescents. Psychiatry and
Clinical Psychology, 17(2),104-110.
Accessed 10 Sept 2017.

Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Sidani,
J. E., Whaite, E. O., Lin, L. y., Rosen, D., & Miller, E. (2017). Social
media use and perceived social isolation among young adults in the U.S. American
Journal of Preventive Medicine,53(1), 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.
Accessed 09 September 2017.




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