Social media and loneliness
Social media use continues to grow and is especially prevalent among young adults. It is surprising then that, in spite of this enhanced interconnectivity, young adults may be lonelier than other age groups, and that the current generation may be the loneliest ever. We propose that only image-based platforms (e.g., Instagram, Snapchat) have the potential to ameliorate loneliness due to the enhanced intimacy they offer. In contrast, text-based platforms (e.g., Twitter, Yik Yak) offer little intimacy and should have no effect on loneliness. This study (Nź=ź253) uses a mixed-design survey to test this possibility. Quantitative results suggest that loneliness may decrease, while happiness and satisfaction with life may increase, as a function of image-based social media use. In contrast, text-based media use appears ineffectual. Qualitative results suggest that the observed effects may be due to the enhanced intimacy offered by image-based (versus text-based) social media use. Loneliness remains pervasive in societies where social media usage is highest.Interconnectedness offered by social media usage should attenuate loneliness.Image-based social media may attenuate loneliness due to increased social presence.We examine psychological well-being of a sample of young adult social media users.Only image-based social media usage attenuates loneliness in a linear pattern.