Screen Free Week; Social Media and Loneliness
This week marks ‘Screen Free Week’, where people are encouraged to ditch their devices and enjoy life outside of the internet. As May is also our Mental Health Month, we’re going to have a look at the impact of social media on loneliness.
Social media has been a lifeline for many of us throughout the pandemic. It has been a distraction from the seemingly never-ending lockdowns, and has kept us in touch with friends and family. There are many benefits to staying connected online, including accessibility and variety, but this should be balanced with doing activities with others outside of virtual reality too.
A study on loneliness and social media during the pandemic, published in 2021, found that while social media can lessen the feeling of loneliness in people who are middle-aged or older, it can actually increase loneliness in younger people. This can be due to feeling like you’re missing out (FOMO), or that social media has become a replacement for real life socialising. A study found that Gen-Z (people born between 1997-2012) are the generation most likely to feel lonely as while social media has blossomed, there are less community-focussed activities nowadays for people to socialise in person. This can also have an impact on people’s ability to connect with others in real life as opposed to through their devices.
It can be easy to get stuck scrolling mindlessly through Instagram or constantly checking the news for updates. By breaking the cycle and going for a walk on your lunch break or spending an hour reading in the evening, it will help you sever the ties to your devices and can also help you to sleep better too! Checking your bright phone right before bed will make your body think it is still daytime outside, which can make it harder to both fall asleep and stay asleep.
Loneliness is something that we all feel in our lives at some point. While using social media or texting can take the edge off, having real conversations in person or doing activities with a community group can have an instant and long-lasting impact on your mental health.
Check out the helpful tips and guides from the Screen Free organisation behind the campaign here. They have resources for all which can be downloaded and used offline, with a variety of interesting activities which we’re sure will keep us occupied and off our devices!
If you want to use the internet and social media more safely, please check out our ‘Going Digital’ guide here.