Among young adults, those who most frequently use social media are more likely to feel socially isolated than are less frequent users, according to results of a survey of almost 1,800 respondents.

Adults aged 19-32 years who were in the highest quartile of social media use – 58 or more times a week – had an adjusted odds ratio of 3.4 for perceived social isolation, compared with those in the lowest quartile, who reported using social media less than 9 times a week, said Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh and his associates (Am J Prev Med. 2017 Mar 6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.010).

Results of the 1,787 survey responses put the two middle quartiles – 9-30 and 31-57 users per week – between the other two groups regarding feelings of social isolation, with adjusted odds ratios of 1.8 and 1.9, respectively.

“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for,” Dr. Primack said in a separate written statement.

The cross-sectional survey was conducted in October and November 2014, and the 11 social media platforms included were Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, and Reddit.


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