How “Social” is Social Media?

Social Health

Facebook’s mission is to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Is social media actually bringing us together? As a sociologist, I took a look at the research. Here is what I found:

Social media use is correlated with depression and low well-being. Yes, this conclusion itself sounds depressing, but let’s take a look at the data. A 2016 study surveyed 1787 19-32 year old men and women, finding social media use was “was significantly associated with increased depression.” Another 2016 study found “taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive.”

Internet use is correlated with decreased loneliness among older adults. So it’s more complicated than the above studies might suggest. According to this 2015 study looking at individuals 65 and older, “higher levels of Internet use were significant predictors…

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