A Survey Study Investigating Loneliness and its Association with Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic among UK University Students.
Keywords:Loneliness, Social media, Covid-19, Students, Anxiety, Connect
Whilst a number of studies have explored the impact of social media on mental health (such as levels of anxiety and depression), very little have explored the impact on loneliness. Furthermore, University students experience high levels of loneliness whilst also being prevalent social media users. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate loneliness and its relationship with social media in UK university students, with a particular emphasis on loneliness levels during the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to a lack of knowledge about loneliness amongst younger generations, students were chosen as the target audience. The study used a quantitative approach, with data collected via an online anonymous questionnaire. The study recruited 101 participants, and found relationships between social media use, levels of loneliness, and other mental health issues, such as anxiety. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, social media also helped with loneliness, as it acted as a medium for contact and kept students entertained during this isolating time. The data also found that image-centric social media applications such as Facebook and Instagram had a huge impact on self-image when coming out of lockdown causing social anxiety and self-image problems. Gaps in knowledge about social media and loneliness were discovered during Covid-19, and it is recommended that more could be done to educate students about these risks particularly post pandemic. Some recommendations include the need for campaigns in student unions or universities to address the issue of student loneliness, as well as more research on loneliness in university students due to social media.
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