The Pope has claimed that social media may explain why some people feel lonely.
Speaking as part of his tour of the United States, Pope Francis said "I would dare say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of radical loneliness that so many people live in today. Running after the latest fad, a like, accumulating followers on any of the social networks”.
Well, he does only have 7.5 million followers on Twitter. To mark the Pope’s US visit, he even had his own pictured hashtags, displaying the locations of the places he was visiting. But, he may just have a point.
A recent study of around 500 teenagers found that many felt a pressure to respond to texts, emails and notifications. There was also a strong link between logging on to social media at night time and a lack of quality of sleep, leading to anxiety, low self-esteem and even depression.
There are others who refute the claim that social media is a cause of depression . Loneliness and low self-esteem are higher in young people due to added pressures of growing up and going through social and emotional changes.
Call and Response
There may be something in the idea that social media causes loneliness. More young people are forging online relationships, taking time away from real life interactions. With incoming messages and invitations flying from all sorts of different social channels, it can feel like you must respond to them all as soon as possible. And if you sleep with your phone by the bed and you wake up during the night, the temptation is often too much when it comes to having a quick peek to see if you have any messages (we've all done it)!
There are lots of positive aspects to social media that are often overlooked in this debate. Social media is a great way for people to share ideas and stories, giving them a broader view on the world which they may not have otherwise had. With the opportunity to connect with almost any person in the world at the touch of the button, does social media make you feel lonely?