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Mar 09, 2017 08:00 AM EST

A study led by Brian Primack from the University of Pittsburgh has found that social media leads to feelings of loneliness in young adults. This is an interesting discovery since technology has always been believed to help people interact with each other better.

Primack is the director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. He and his colleagues discovered that young adults who spend over two hours a day on social media saw themselves as more socially isolated than those who only spent half an hour or less, Lifehacker reported.

The researchers have not found the direct cause but they suggest that it might have something to do with seeing other people interact with one another. They speculated that everyone else is connecting and enjoying their lives while you just watch them through your feed.

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It was also claimed that being lonely can increase the use of social media. This leads to an unending cycle of feeling isolated and using social media, which breeds loneliness.

The study has been published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine." Primack told Eurekalert that the issue is important because mental health problems and social isolation are at "epidemic levels" among young adults today.

The researchers had 1,787 American young adults aged 19 to 32 participate in the study. They were asked using questionnaires to answer how often they use social media. The respondents' perceived social isolation was assessed using a validated tool called the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.

Senior author Elizabeth Miller, professor of pediatrics at Pitt and chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, said that they have not determined whether social media use came first before the perceived social isolation or whether it's the other way around. She hypothesized on the possibility of the young adults already feeling socially isolated before turning to social media or that their increased use of these online platforms led to loneliness.

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