Social media websites make us more lonely

Social media sites designed to help people to connect are causing them to feel more alone, say psychologists.

The more time young adults spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and similar sites the more likely they are to feel cut off from society, a study has shown. More than two hours of social media use a day doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation.

Higher numbers of visits to social media sites have a negative effect as does the amount of time spent online, the American research shows. Those who visited the most popular sites 58 or more times per week were three times more at risk of isolation than those visiting fewer than nine times per week.

Brian Primack, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said: “We are inherently social creatures but modern life tends to compartmentalise us instead of bringing us together.” Social media might fill a social void but the study had shown that it might not be the solution people were looking for.

A total of 1,787 adults aged 19 to 32 were questioned about their use of the most popular social media sites in 2014 for the survey, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The scientists have several theories to explain the findings. One is that social media use displaces more authentic experiences because the more time a person spends online, the less time is left for real-life contact.