As it turns out, deleting social media apps like Facebook and Instagram doesn’t cure loneliness.
Anatoliy Gruzd is an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University who researches how social media impacts the way people interact and the implications of that on society.
In a CBS article, Gruzd commented on a study claiming there is a link between social media usage and feelings of isolation and loneliness. In his comments, he pointed out that saying there is a link between the two variables is very different than claiming that one causes the other.
“We don’t know that whether, if you use social media, you may feel more isolated or whether you already feel isolated and lonely and you turn to social media,” said Gruzd in the article.
The research found that of the 1,800 people between the ages of 19 and 32 that were surveyed, the ones who use social media the most were twice as likely to feel socially isolated.
Researchers measured frequency and time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit.
In the article, Grudz points out that the type of participation in these sites varies and that someone spending hours looking at pictures has a very different social participation than one who is actively posting and connecting with other users.
Despite the researchers’ acknowledgement of their study’s limitations, the idea that social media causes harm to people is an appealing hypothesis.
“It’s very tempting to try to build causality between someone being isolated and using social media,” said Gruzd in the article. “[S]ocial media is designed to make us more connected not less, so there’s an appeal to have that disproved.”