facebook or loneliness a difficult choice

Is it that people are increasingly lonely even if they have the feeling of being more connected online? Hayeon Song, assistant professor of communications at the University of Wisconsin University Milwaukee (UWM), explored this topic in a recent research.

 

The study looked specifically at Facebook, which, with over one billion users and growing, is a major force in the daily lives and social interactions.

 

The working Hayeon Song and his team, published this summer in Computers in Human Behavior, analyzed data from relevant studies to conclude that there is a relationship between the use of Facebook and loneliness. The researchers concluded that this relationship exists because the feeling of loneliness that users go to Facebook, rather than Facebook makes lonely people.

 

The researchers chose to focus on Facebook because it is by far the social media site's most popular online, with people who use it to share personal information, meet people and make friends, according to this study. The use of Facebook - at home and at work - representing 54% of the time online users worldwide and 62% of their time in the United States.

 

The impact of all that "connectivity" to help or harm the human interaction is a current topic in the media and in the scientific community says Hayeon Song. For several decades, scientists are looking into whether the use of Internet in general is psychologically beneficial or harmful.

Basically, researchers have been two competing hypotheses of what they call the "Internet Paradox":

 

"Does spent so many hours with a machine prevents people establish real relationships with other people? Or, is what happens to people shy or socially awkward, a chance to connect with others in a way that is most comfortable for them a communication face-to-face? "For example, when people communicate online, they can reflect and think longer before saying something. This gives people a way to connect with others while feeling less anxious.

 

Although the use of the Internet in general has been widely studied, little research has been done on the relatively new phenomenon of Facebook.

 

Hayeon Song and his team collected and reviewed all the data published to date on the issue, searching electronic databases for the keyword "Facebook", coupled with other search terms such as anxiety, shyness, loneliness .

"Some researchers have found a" positive "relationship between the use of Facebook and loneliness, and some people have found the opposite," says Song Hayeon.

 

The results of the meta-analysis of his team, based on all published studies have shown that there is a relationship between the use of Facebook and loneliness. It is that as loneliness increases, time spent on Facebook is increasing. This means at least that Facebook does not help to reduce loneliness, even if we feel connected while using it.

 

The research team therefore examined the relationship of cause and effect between loneliness and the use of Facebook. "Does Facebook make them more lonely people, or is it that the only people are more attracted to Facebook."

On this issue, the studies offer a clearer answer. "We found that loneliness is caused use Facebook rather than the reverse," says Song Hayeon.

Non-solitary use Facebook but retain rich communications and personal relationships without it, says Hayeon Song. "Compared to the non-isolated, single people spend more time on Facebook.

Lonely people who are shy or who have low social support may turn to Facebook to compensate for their lack of social skills and / or social networks in meetings face-to-face, "according to the results of the study.

 

"The interesting point of this study is that it supports and corrects the original study of the paradox (" The Internet Paradox ", carried out by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University), which is one of the most influential studies in the Internet search. To the question of whether or not Internet increases the psychological dysfunction such as loneliness, the study of the Internet paradox suggests that Internet use has adverse effects. Our study confirms this fact in the sense that Internet use is associated with loneliness. However, we found that the causality direction suggested earlier was wrong: the only people spend more time online than Internet use makes lonely people, "says Hayein Song, adding that more research on the topic are needed.

 

Future researchers, for example, might choose to observe the different impacts at different times in people's lives - is that young compensate their loneliness in the same way as the elderly? Or those who use Facebook do they respond in a more compulsive than those who use more casually?

 

A study researchers examined, for example, indicate that the use of Facebook could become a vicious circle for those who feel socially isolated and alone - it allows them to reap the benefits of social interaction, but could do feel more isolated as the online contacts rising replace the Communication from real life, says Hayeon Song.

With data from a single study, it is difficult to generalize, which ensures Hayeon Song also added that further studies are necessary because loneliness is related to psychological and health problems such as depression.

"Facebook is so widespread, and constantly evolving. For some people, it's almost like an addiction because they become so involved, "she said. "That is why it is important to understand the long-term causes and consequences of the use of social media. »

JOHN CARRID   Photographe plasticien

 

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