Advertisement

Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.

  • Brian A. Primack
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, 230 McKee Place, Suite 600, Pittsburgh PA 15213.
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Ariel Shensa
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jaime E. Sidani
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Erin O. Whaite
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Liu yi Lin
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    UPMC McKeesport Family Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Program, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Daniel Rosen
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jason B. Colditz
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Ana Radovic
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author
  • Elizabeth Miller
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Search for articles by this author

      Introduction

      Perceived social isolation (PSI) is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Social media platforms, commonly used by young adults, may offer an opportunity to ameliorate social isolation. This study assessed associations between social media use (SMU) and PSI among U.S. young adults.

      Methods

      Participants were a nationally representative sample of 1,787 U.S. adults aged 19–32 years. They were recruited in October–November 2014 for a cross-sectional survey using a sampling frame that represented 97% of the U.S. population. SMU was assessed using both time and frequency associated with use of 11 social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, and Reddit. PSI was measured using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System scale. In 2015, ordered logistic regression was used to assess associations between SMU and SI while controlling for eight covariates.

      Results

      In fully adjusted multivariable models that included survey weights, compared with those in the lowest quartile for SMU time, participants in the highest quartile had twice the odds of having greater PSI (AOR=2.0, 95% CI=1.4, 2.8). Similarly, compared with those in the lowest quartile, those in the highest quartile of SMU frequency had more than three times the odds of having greater PSI (AOR=3.4, 95% CI=2.3, 5.1). Associations were linear (p<0.001 for all), and results were robust to all sensitivity analyses.

      Conclusions

      Young adults with high SMU seem to feel more socially isolated than their counterparts with lower SMU. Future research should focus on determining directionality and elucidating reasons for these associations.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Nicholson R.
        A review of social isolation: an important but underassessed condition in older adults.
        J Prim Prev. 2012; 33: 137-152https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-012-0271-2
        • Pantell M.
        • Rehkopf D.
        • Jutte D.
        • Syme S.L.
        • Balmes J.
        • Adler N.
        Social isolation: a predictor of mortality comparable to traditional clinical risk factors.
        Am J Public Health. 2013; 103: 2056-2062https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301261
        • Holt-Lunstad J.
        • Smith T.B.
        • Baker M.
        • Harris T.
        • Stephenson D.
        Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review.
        Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015; 10: 227-237https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691614568352
        • Cacioppo J.T.
        • Hawkley L.C.
        Perceived social isolation and cognition.
        Trends Cogn Sci. 2009; 13: 447-454https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2009.06.005
        • Stuller K.A.
        • Jarrett B.
        • DeVries A.C.
        Stress and social isolation increase vulnerability to stroke.
        Exp Neurol. 2012; 233: 33-39https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.01.016
        • Dang Y.H.
        • Liu P.
        • Ma R.
        • et al.
        HINT1 is involved in the behavioral abnormalities induced by social isolation rearing.
        Neurosci Lett. 2015; 607: 40-45https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2015.08.026
        • Steptoe A.
        • Shankar A.
        • Demakakos P.
        • Wardle J.
        Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women.
        Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013; 110: 5797-5801https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1219686110
        • Holwerda T.J.
        • Beekman A.T.F.
        • Deeg D.J.H.
        • et al.
        Increased risk of mortality associated with social isolation in older men: only when feeling lonely? Results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL).
        Psychol Med. 2012; 42: 843-853https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291711001772
        • Holwerda T.J.
        • Deeg D.J.H.
        • Beekman A.T.F.
        • et al.
        Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL).
        J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2014; 85: 135-142https://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2012-302755
        • Matthews T.
        • Danese A.
        • Wertz J.
        • et al.
        Social isolation, loneliness and depression in young adulthood: a behavioural genetic analysis.
        Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2016; 51: 339-348https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-016-1178-7
        • Steinfield C.
        • Ellison N.B.
        • Lampe C.
        Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: a longitudinal analysis.
        J Appl Dev Psychol. 2008; 29: 434-445https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.002
        • Ellison N.B.
        • Steinfield C.
        • Lampe C.
        The benefits of Facebook “friends”: social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites.
        J Comput Commun. 2007; 12: 1143-1168https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x
        • Roisman G.I.
        • Masten A.S.
        • Coatsworth J.D.
        • Tellegen A.
        Salient and emerging developmental tasks in the transition to adulthood.
        Child Dev. 2004; 75: 123-133https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00658.x
      1. Pew Research Center. Social media update 2015. www.webcitation.org/6ajEhvS11. Published 2015. Accessed June 8, 2016.

        • Shensa A.
        • Sidani J.E.
        • Lin L.
        • Bowman N.
        • Primack B.A.
        Social media use and perceived emotional support among U.S. young adults.
        J Community Health. 2016; 41: 541-549https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-015-0128-8
        • Kross E.
        • Verduyn P.
        • Demiralp E.
        • et al.
        Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults.
        PLoS One. 2013; 8: e69841https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069841
        • Chou H.T.G.
        • Edge N.
        “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives.
        Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2012; 15: 117-121https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2011.0324
        • Sagioglou C.
        • Greitemeyer T.
        Facebook’s emotional consequences: why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it.
        Comput Human Behav. 2014; 35: 359-363https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.03.003
        • Lin L.Y.
        • Sidani J.E.
        • Shensa A.
        • et al.
        Association between social media use and depression among U.S. young adults.
        Depress Anxiety. 2016; 33: 323-331https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22466
        • Arnett J.J.
        • Zukauskiene R.
        • Sugimura K.
        The new life stage of emerging adulthood at ages 18-29 years: implications for mental health.
        Lancet Psychiatry. 2014; 1: 569-576https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00080-7
      2. GfK KnowledgePanel®. KnowledgePanel Design Summary. www.webcitation.org/6ajEWO5mb. Published 2013.

        • Baker R.
        • Blumberg S.J.
        • Brick J.M.
        • et al.
        Research synthesis.
        Public Opin Q. 2010; 74: 711-781https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfq048
        • Wagner T.H.
        • Baker L.C.
        • Bundorf M.K.
        • Singer S.
        Use of the Internet for health information by the chronically ill.
        Prev Chronic Dis. 2004; 1: A13
        • Cella D.
        • Riley W.
        • Stone A.
        • et al.
        The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) developed and tested its first wave of adult self-reported health outcome item banks: 2005-2008.
        J Clin Epidemiol. 2010; 63: 1179-1194https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.04.011
        • Cella D.
        • Gershon R.
        • Lai J.-S.
        • Choi S.
        The future of outcomes measurement: item banking, tailored short-forms, and computerized adaptive assessment.
        Qual Life Res. 2007; 16: 133-141https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-007-9204-6
        • Hahn E.A.
        • DeWalt D.A.
        • Bode R.K.
        • et al.
        New English and Spanish social health measures will facilitate evaluating health determinants.
        Health Psychol. 2014; 33: 490-499https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000055
        • Carle A.C.
        • Riley W.
        • Hays R.D.
        • Cella D.
        Confirmatory factor analysis of the patient reported outcomes measurement information system (PROMIS) adult domain framework using item response theory scores.
        Med Care. 2015; 53: 894-900https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0000000000000413
        • Stacciarini J.M.
        • Smith R.
        • Garvan C.W.
        • Wiens B.
        • Cottler L.B.
        Rural Latinos’ mental wellbeing: a mixed-methods pilot study of family, environment and social isolation factors.
        Community Ment Health J. 2015; 51: 404-413https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-014-9774-z
        • Johnston K.L.
        • Lawrence S.M.
        • Dodds N.E.
        • Yu L.
        • Daley D.C.
        • Pilkonis P.A.
        Evaluating PROMIS® instruments and methods for patient-centered outcomes research: patient and provider voices in a substance use treatment setting.
        Qual Life Res. 2016; 25: 615-624https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-015-1131-3
      3. Nielsen. State of the media: the social media report 2012. www.webcitation.org/6bXTvRwTJ. Published 2012. Accessed June 8, 2016.

        • Kessler R.C.
        • Chiu W.T.
        • Demler O.
        • Merikangas K.R.
        • Walters E.E.
        Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.
        Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005; 62: 617-627https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617
        • Gowen K.
        • Deschaine M.
        • Gruttadara D.
        • Markey D.
        Young adults with mental health conditions and social networking websites: seeking tools to build community.
        Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2012; 35: 245-250https://doi.org/10.2975/35.3.2012.245.250
      4. Bronfenbrenner U. The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

        • Madden M.
        • Lenhart A.
        • Cortesi S.
        • et al.
        Teens, social media, and privacy.
        Pew Research Center, Washington, DC2013
        • Tandoc E.C.
        • Ferrucci P.
        • Duffy M.
        Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: is facebooking depressing?.
        Comput Human Behav. 2015; 43: 139-146https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.10.053
        • Tufekci Z.
        • Brashears M.E.
        Are we all equally at home socializing online? Cyberasociality and evidence for an unequal distribution of disdain for digitally-mediated sociality.
        Information Commun Soc. 2014; 17: 486-502https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2014.891634
        • Craig D.
        • Strivens E.
        Facing the times: a young onset dementia support group: Facebook TM style.
        Australas J Ageing. 2016; 35: 48-53https://doi.org/10.1111/ajag.12264
        • Beaudoin C.E.
        • Tao C.C.
        Benefiting from social capital in online support groups: an empirical study of cancer patients.
        CyberPsychology Behav. 2007; 10: 587-590https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2007.9986
        • Duggan M.
        Mobile messaging and social media 2015. Pew Research Center.
        Pew Res Center’s Internet Sci Tech. 2015;