Advertisement

Loneliness and Social Media: A Qualitative Investigation of Young People’s Motivations for Use, and Perceptions of Social Networking Sites

  • Bianca FoxEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Ubiquitous and easy to use, social media platforms have changed the way we communicate, make new friends or maintain old friendships. Unexpectedly, in the age of enhanced social interconnectivity, people feel lonelier than ever (Turkle 2011), especially young adults (16–24 years old) who are avid social media users are frequently reported to be significantly lonelier than any other age group (Office for National Statistics 2018). This chapter advances our understanding of the relationship between loneliness and social networking websites (SNSs) use and aims to put an end to the debate regarding whether or not SNS use is making young adults lonelier. This is the first research in the UK that analyses and compares the way different SNSs (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat) can increase or decrease loneliness in young adults.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the ERAS Scheme at the University of Wolverhampton. I am very grateful to the anonymous reviewers and to Dr. Fran Pheasant Kelly for their invaluable comments on earlier versions of this chapter. Thanks also go to Ameena Khan for assistance with data collection and proofreading. Finally, my sincere thanks go to Lucy Batrouney and Mala Sanghera-Warren and the team at Palgrave Macmillan.

References

  1. Bhutta, C.B. 2012. Not by the Book: Facebook as a Sampling Frame. Sociological Research and Methods, March 21.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124112440795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blachnio, A., A. Przepiorka, W. Boruch, and E. Balakier. 2016. Self-Presentation Styles, Privacy, and Loneliness as Predictors of Facebook Use in Young People. Personality and Individual Differences 94: 26–31.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.12.051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blazun, H., K. Saranto, and S. Rissanen. 2012. Impact of Computer Training Courses on Reduction of Loneliness of Older People in Finland and Slovenia. Computers in Human Behavior 28: 1202–1212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braun, V., and V. Clarke. 2006. Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3: 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bree, R., and G. Gallagher. 2016. Using Microsoft Excel to Code and Thematically Analyse Qualitative Data: A Simple, Cost-Effective Approach. All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (AISHE-J) 8 (2): 2811–28114.Google Scholar
  6. Boyd, d.m., and N.B. Ellison. 2007. Social Network Sites: Definitions, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13 (1), 210–230.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burke, M., C. Marlow, and T. Lento. 2010. Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being; Paper Presented at the Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1901–1912, ACM Press, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Cacioppo, John T., Louise C. Hawkley, L. Elizabeth Crawford, John M. Ernst, Mary H. Burleson, Ray B. Kowalewski, William B. Malarkey, Eve Van Cauter, and Gary G. Berntson. 2002. Loneliness and Health: Potential Mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine 64 (3): 407–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castleberry, A., and A. Nolen. 2018. Thematic Analysis of Qualitative Research Data: Is It as Easy as It Sounds? Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning 10: 807–815.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cptl.2018.03.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Couldry, Nick. 2015. Social Media: Human Life. Social Media + Society 1 (1).  https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115580336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cramer, Kenneth M., and Joanne E. Barry. 1999. Conceptualizations and Measures of Loneliness: A Comparison of Subscales. Personality and Individual Differences 27 (3): 491–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Jong Gierveld, J., and T. van Tilburg. 2006. A 6-Item Scale for Overall, Emotional, and Social Loneliness. Confirmatory Tests on Survey Data. Research on Aging 28 (5): 582–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deters, F. g., and M. R. Mehl. 2013. Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment. Social Psychological and Personality Science 4 (5).  https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550612469233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ellison, N.B., C. Steinfield, and C. Lampe. 2007. The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (4): 1143–1168.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Erdoğan, Y. 2008. Exploring the Relationships Among Internet Usage, Internet Attitudes and Loneliness of Turkish Adolescents. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace 2 (2), Article 4.Google Scholar
  16. Fokkema, T., and K. Knipscheer. 2007. Escape Loneliness by Going Digital: A Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluation of a Dutch Experiment in Using ECT to Overcome Loneliness Among Older Adults. Aging & Mental Health 11: 496–504. (PubMed: 17882587).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fromm-Reichmann, F. 1959. Loneliness. Psychiatry 22 (1): 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Griffin, J. 2010. The Lonely Society? London: Mental Health Foundation. Available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/the_lonely_society_report.pdf.
  19. Gross, E.F. 2004. Adolescent Internet Use: What We Expect, What Teens Report. Applied Developmental Psychology 25: 633–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gross, E.F., J. Juvonen, and S.L. Gable. 2002. Internet Use and Well-Being in Adolescence. Journal of Social Issues 58: 75–90.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4560.00249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guo, Y., Y. Li, and N. Ito. 2014. Exploring the Predicted Effect of Social Networking Site Use on Perceived Social Capital and Psychological Well-Being of Chinese International Students in Japan. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking 17: 52–58.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hawkley, Louise C., and John T. Cacioppo. 2010. Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 40 (2): 218–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heinrich, Liesl M., and Eleonora Gullone. 2006. The Clinical Significance of Loneliness: A Literature Review. Clinical Psychology Review 26 (6): 695–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hughes, Mary Elizabeth, Linda J. Waite, Louise C. Hawkley, and John T. Cacioppo. 2004. A Short Scale for Measuring Loneliness in Large Surveys. Research on Aging 26 (6): 655–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jin, B., and Park, N. 2012. Mobile Voice Communication and Loneliness: Cell Phone Use and the Social Skills Deficit Hypothesis. New Media & Society 0 (0): 1–18.Google Scholar
  26. Kemp, Simon. 2019. Digital Report 2019: Essential Insights into How People Around the World Use the Internet Mobile Devices, Social Media and E-Commerce. Hootsuite. Available at https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019.
  27. Kraut, R., M. Patterson, V. Lundmark, S. Kiesler, T. Mukopadhyay, and W. Scherlis. 1998. Internet Paradox. A Social Technology that Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being? American Psychologist 53: 1017–1031.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.53.9.1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kross, E., P. Verduyn, E. Demiralp, J. Park, D. Lee, N. Lin, H. Shablack, J. Jonides, and O. Ybarra. 2013. Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. PloS one 8: e69841.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lemieux, R., S. Lajoie, and N.E. Trainor. 2013. Affinity Seeking, Social Loneliness and Social Avoidance Among Facebook Users. Psychological Reports: Physical and Mental Health 112: 545–552.  https://doi.org/10.2466/07.pr0.112.2.545-552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lou, L., Z. Yan, A. Nickerson, and R. McMorris. 2012. An Examination of the Reciprocal Relationship of Loneliness and Facebook Use Among First-Year College Students. Journal of Educational Computing Research 46: 105–117.  https://doi.org/10.2190/EC.46.1.e.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luo, Ye, Louise C. Hawkley, Linda J. Waite, and John T. Cacioppo. 2012. Loneliness, Health, and Mortality in Old Age: A National Longitudinal Study. Social Science & Medicine 74 (6): 907–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Maguire, M., and B. Delahunt. 2017. Doing a Thematic Analysis: A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide for Learning and Teaching Scholars. All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (AISHE-J) 9 (3): 3351–33514.Google Scholar
  33. Matsuba, M. 2006. Searching for Self and Relationships Online. CyberPsychology & Behavior 9: 275–284.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2006.9.275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McWhirter, B.T. 1990. Loneliness: A Review of Current Literature, with Implications for Counseling and Research. Journal of Counseling and Development 68 (4): 417–422.  https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6676.1990.tb02521x.
  35. Morahan-Martin, Janet, and Phyllis Schumacher. 2003. Loneliness and Social Uses of the Internet. Computers in Human Behavior 19 (6): 659–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nie, N.H., Hillygus, D.S., and Erbring, L. 2002. Internet Use, Personal Relations and Sociability: A Time Diary Study. In The Internet in Everyday Life, ed. B. Wellman and C. Haythornthwaite, 215–243. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Nowland, R., E. Necka, and J.T. Cacioppo. 2017. Loneliness and Social Internet Use: Pathways to Reconnection in a Digital World? Perspectives on Psychological Science 13: 70–87.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617713052.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nummela, Olli, Marjaana Seppänen, and Antti Uutela. 2011. The Effect of Loneliness and Change in Loneliness on Self-Rated Health (SRH): A Longitudinal Study Among Aging People. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 53 (2): 163–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Odacı, H., and M. Kalkan. 2010. Problematic Internet Use, Loneliness and Dating Anxiety Among Young Adult University Students. Computers & Education 55: 1091–1097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Office for national Statistics. 2018. Loneliness—What Characteristics and Circumstances Are Associated with Feeling Lonely? Analysis of Characteristics and Circumstances with Loneliness in England Using the Community Life Survey, 2016 to 2017. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/lonelinesswhatcharacteristicsandcircumstancesareassociatedwithfeelinglonely/2018-04-10.
  41. Oldmeadow, Julian A., Sally Quinn, and Rachel Kowert. 2013. Attachment Style, Social Skills, and Facebook Use Amongst Adults. Computers in Human Behavior 29 (3): 1142–1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ong, C., S. Chang, and C. Wang. 2011. Comparative Loneliness of Users Versus Non-Users of Online Chatting. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking 14 (1–2): 35–40.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2009.0321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Özdemir, Y., Y. Kuzucu, and S. Ak. 2014. Depression, Loneliness, and Internet Addiction: How Important Is Low Self-Control. Computers in Human Behavior 34: 284–290.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.02.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ozsaker, M., G.K. Muslu, A. Kahraman, D. Beytut, F. Yardimci, and Z. Basbakkal. 2015. A Study on the Effects of Loneliness, Depression and Perceived Social Support on Problematic Internet Use Among University Students. Anthropologist 19: 533–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Öztunç, Mustafa. 2013. Analysis of Problematic Mobile Phone Use, Feelings of Shyness and Loneliness in Accordance with Several Variables. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences 106: 456–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Peper, E., and R. Harvey. 2018. Digital Addiction: Increased Loneliness, Anxiety and Depression. NeuroRegulation 5 (1).  https://doi.org/10.15540/nr.5.1.3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pinquart, Martin, and Silvia Sorensen. 2010. Influences on Loneliness in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 23 (4): 245–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pittman, M., and B. Reich. 2016. Social Media and Loneliness: Why an Instagram Picture May Be Worth More Than a Thousand Twitter Words. Computers in Human Behavior 62: 155–167.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.084.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Prensky, Marc. 2001. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon 9 (5): 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Przybylsk, A.K., and N. Weinstein. 2012. Can You Connect with Me Now? How the Presence of Mobile Communication Technology Influences Face-to-Face Conversation Quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 30: 237–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reid, Donna J., and Fraser J.M. Reid. 2007. Text or Talk? Social Anxiety, Loneliness, and Divergent Preferences for Cell Phone Use. CyberPsychology & Behavior 10 (3): 424–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rhodes, B.B., and E.L. Marks. 2011. Using Facebook to Locate Sample Members. Survey Practive, October. Available at https://surveypractice.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/using-facebook-to-locate-sample-members/.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rubin, H.J., and I.S. Rubin. 1995. Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  54. Russell, Dan, Letitia Anne Peplau, and Mary Lund Ferguson. 1978. Developing a Measure of Loneliness. Journal of Personality Assessment 42 (3): 290–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ryan, T., and S. Xenos. 2011. Who Uses Facebook? An Investigation into the Relationship Between the Big Five, Shyness, Narcissism, Loneliness, and Facebook Usage. Computers in Human Behavior 27: 1658–1664.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.02.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sage, A. 2013. The Facebook Platform and the Future of Social Research. In Social Media, Sociality and Survey Research, 133–147. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Şar, A.H., G.Y. Goktürk, T. Gülşah, and N. Kazaz. 2012. Is the Internet Use an Effective Method to Cope with Elderly Loneliness and Decrease Loneliness Symptom? Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences 55: 153–159.Google Scholar
  58. Stepanikova, Irena, Norman H. Nie, and Xiaobin He. 2010. Time on the Internet at Home, Loneliness, and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Panel Time-Diary Data. Computers in Human Behavior 26 (3): 329–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sheldon, K. 2012. Profiling the Non-Users: Examination of Life Position Indicators, Sensation Seeking, Shyness and Loneliness Among Users and Non-Users of Social Networking Sites. Computers in Human Behavior 28: 1960–1965.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Skues, J.L., B. Williams, and L. Wise. 2012. The Effects of Personality Traits, Self-Esteem, Loneliness, and Narcissism on Facebook Use Among University Students. Computers in Human Behavior 28: 2414–2419.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Spraggins, A. 2011. Problematic Use of Online Social Networking Sites for College Students: Prevalence, Predictors, and Association with Well-Being. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering. US: ProQuest Information & Learning. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2011-99100-014&site=ehost-live.
  62. Subrahmanyam, K., and G. Lin. 2007. Adolescents on the Net: Internet Use and Well-Being. Adolescence 42: 659–677.Google Scholar
  63. Takao, Motoharu, Susumu Takahashi, and Masayoshi Kitamura. 2009. Addictive Personality and Problematic Mobile Phone Use. CyberPsychology & Behavior 12 (5): 501–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. TAN, Ç., M. Pamuk, and A. Dönder. 2013. Loneliness and Mobile Phone. Procedia-Social and behavioural Sciences 103: 606–611, Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813038238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Twenge, J.M., B.H. Spitzberg, K.W. and Campbell. 2019. Less In-Person Social Interaction with Peers Among U.S. Adolescents in the 21st Century and Links to Loneliness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 36 (6).  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407519836170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Uusiautti, Satu, and Kaarina Määttä. 2014. I Am No Longer Alone—How Do University Students Perceive the Possibilities of Social Media? International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 19 (3): 293–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Victor, Christina R., and Keming Yang. 2012. The Prevalence of Loneliness Among Adults: A Case Study of the United Kingdom. The Journal of Psychology 146 (1–2): 85–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wei, R., and V.H. Lo. 2006. Staying Connected While on the Move: Mobile Phone Use and Social Connectedness. New Media & Society 8: 53–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK

Personalised recommendations