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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is social media making us lonely?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Marian Spencer Counselling is a private practice located in Cornubia, South East QLD, and offers services Specifically for Women. I am a graduate member of … View Profile

    Absolutely, the younger generation are growing up in a world where interaction with others is predominantly through a screen.  The screen of their phone, computer and/or the interactive TV screens we have today.
    A large proportion of communication is conveyed by emailing, text messaging, playing interactive games, engaging in face book activities or contributing to chat rooms and forums. Although communication is taking place, there is no physical interaction.  It is very difficult to effectively send or receive messages correctly without facial expression or body language to help decipher the true meaning of the message. This can result and often does in miss interpretation of those messages. 
    There is definitely a place for the technology which allows many of us to keep in touch with others we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.  It is excellent for those who are unable to get out and about, but it is being abused and misused.  It’s far too easy to log on, be anonymous and log off.  We are social pack animals naturally.  That is how we best function.  If we don’t do that we become isolated and very lonely.

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    Leanne Hall

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Integrative Psychologist, Health Coach & Personal Trainer in private practice. I have expertise in assessing and treating a range of disorders and conditions; depression, anxiety, … View Profile

    I would encourage you to take a look at the work that has been done by the Inspire Foundation http://www.inspire.org.au - and now the Young & Well Co-operative Research Centre http://www.yawcrc.org.au, which is a collaboration of young people, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers from over 70 non-profit organisations.

    What has been consistently shown, is that young people use social networking to augment and not replace social networks. There has been considerable research conducted within vulnerable populations, indicating that social media can increase social confidence, provide important emotional and psychological support, and expand knowledge by exposing people to varying opinions and perspectives.

    We also know that social media is being increasingly used by schools, with the development of online and virtual class-room communities - as a way of supporting learning and social awareness. 

    In terms of whether social media contributes to “lonliness”, it is important to consider this in a broader context. It is often more likely that there are a number of other factors contributing to these feelings - for example depression, social anxiety. As such, the role of social media is often more as a “safety seeking” behaviour or way of avoiding social situations (to manange anxiety for example).

    In other words - it is not necessarily the case that social media causes lonliness…..but rather, that depression/anxiety perpetuates the overuse of social networking in a negative way.

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