Study tries to determine if social media creates loneliness

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A new study looks into whether social media creates loneliness or if people who are more lonely tend to gravitate to social media. (KABC)

A new study has looked in to whether social media makes users feel lonelier or if lonely people tend to gravitate toward social media more.

The report published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine asked the question: Is it social media or social isolation?

"The social media craze has helped some people and hurt some others in my opinion," development psychologist Stephanie Marcy with Children's Hospital Los Angeles said.

Marcy was not surprised to learn that the more young people spent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other apps, the more they perceived themselves to be alone.

"Some people who were otherwise social beings are now relying too much on their screens and their tablets and their telephone and social media," Marcy explained.

Is making a comment or sending a Snapchat really connecting with someone? Experts said users can have thousands of followers, but that doesn't mean they have somebody to call when they need a friend.

"It's sort of a false representation of having social connection when there are many people that have thousands of virtual friends that don't really have somebody they can watch a movie with and that's really quite sad," Marcy said.

While the negative implications of social media are often talked about, Marcy said it has helped some people, including those with anxiety, autism and physical limitations.

"There needs to be moderation and balance no matter what it is and with social media that completely applies," Marcy said.

The study doesn't answer whether people who are isolated are more likely to go online or whether seeing the pages of others makes people feel more disheartened.

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