Younger people using social media are becoming lonely — survey

social media lonely
Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

More youth who spend a lot of time on social media are lonely, based on a survey in the US. This affirms the strong link between social media usage and feelings of loneliness.

Results of the second annual Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index show that seven out of 10 heavy social media users, or 71%, reported feelings of loneliness in 2019, an increase from 53% in 2018. Meanwhile, 51% of light social media users also admitted being lonely, a 47% increase from a year ago.

The new Cigna study, which is based on a survey of 10,000 adults, reveals that American workers feel isolated too. Younger workers experience loneliness more so than older co-workers. The state of loneliness among workers aged 18-22, known as Gen Z, rose from 69% in 2018 to 73% in 2019.

The survey also shows that three out of every five adults, or 61%, confess to sometimes or always feeling lonely. This manifests seven percentage points from the 54% reading recorded from the first loneliness index released a year ago.

“We had a hypothesis that society — the U.S. specifically — was dealing with an elevated level of loneliness, disconnection,” Cigna Chief Executive Officer David Cordani said. “We can start to see those disconnections manifest themselves in other health issues showing up for individuals … whether you think about it through the lens of depression, stress … or more heavy, complex behavioral issues.”

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Nearly two-thirds of employees who has been at a job less than six months admitted to experiencing isolation, compared to 40% of workers who have been employed by the same company for 10 years or more. Entry-level workers appeared to be lonelier than experienced workers, middle managers and executives, with more than half claiming there is no one at work they can turn to.

In terms of gender differences, the study discovers that forty percent of men reported feeling a general sense of emptiness when they are at work, compared to 29% of women.

Moreover, 56% of senior executives feel like there is no one they can talk to, with 69% admitting that no one really knows them well.

“They’re more isolated from other employees. If we think about the way to mitigate this — which is having coffee, having lunch with your co-workers — that’s not a typical workplace culture for a lot of senior executives,” said Cigna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Douglas Nemecek. “So, it’s something that we have to think about and work on.”

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