Project Title

How Has Social Media Use Impacted Anxiety and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Communication & Media

Faculty Sponsor Name

Emily Scheinfeld

Abstract (300 words maximum)

During the COVID-19 quarantine, many people turned to social media to stay connected. There have been many discussions about the impact of frequent social media use on mental health (Baltacı 2019. The Predictive Relationships between the Social Media Addiction and Social Anxiety, Loneliness, and Happiness). With the increased reliance on social media in recent years, and due to increased social isolation during the pandemic, this project aimed to investigate the impact of social media on people’s anxiety and loneliness levels, and how they related to age and the purpose of social media use. It was hypothesized that older people would be more likely to use social media for informational and social purposes, specifically connecting with friends and family, resulting in higher anxiety and lower loneliness levels. It was also hypothesized that younger people would be more likely to use social media for entertainment purposes, resulting in lower anxiety and higher loneliness levels. An online survey was taken by 459 participants recruited through social media platforms and via MTurk. The survey collected information including participants’ age, most common uses for social media, social media platforms, as well as mental health measures including anxiety and loneliness. The results of this survey indicated that age did not have a significant impact on how people used social media. However, people who used social media for mostly informational purposes (e.g., news and health information seeking) generally reported higher levels of anxiety. Alternatively, people who used social media mostly for connecting with friends and family generally reported lower levels of anxiety and loneliness. There was no significant relationship between using social media for entertainment and anxiety or loneliness levels. This information can be used to better understand the broader impacts of social media use on mental health.

Keywords: social media, mental health, COVID-19, isolation

Project Type

Event

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How Has Social Media Use Impacted Anxiety and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

During the COVID-19 quarantine, many people turned to social media to stay connected. There have been many discussions about the impact of frequent social media use on mental health (Baltacı 2019. The Predictive Relationships between the Social Media Addiction and Social Anxiety, Loneliness, and Happiness). With the increased reliance on social media in recent years, and due to increased social isolation during the pandemic, this project aimed to investigate the impact of social media on people’s anxiety and loneliness levels, and how they related to age and the purpose of social media use. It was hypothesized that older people would be more likely to use social media for informational and social purposes, specifically connecting with friends and family, resulting in higher anxiety and lower loneliness levels. It was also hypothesized that younger people would be more likely to use social media for entertainment purposes, resulting in lower anxiety and higher loneliness levels. An online survey was taken by 459 participants recruited through social media platforms and via MTurk. The survey collected information including participants’ age, most common uses for social media, social media platforms, as well as mental health measures including anxiety and loneliness. The results of this survey indicated that age did not have a significant impact on how people used social media. However, people who used social media for mostly informational purposes (e.g., news and health information seeking) generally reported higher levels of anxiety. Alternatively, people who used social media mostly for connecting with friends and family generally reported lower levels of anxiety and loneliness. There was no significant relationship between using social media for entertainment and anxiety or loneliness levels. This information can be used to better understand the broader impacts of social media use on mental health.

Keywords: social media, mental health, COVID-19, isolation