Data_Sheet_1_Centennials, FOMO, and Loneliness: An Investigation of the Impact of Social Networking and Messaging/VoIP Apps Usage During the Initial S.PDF (1.27 MB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Centennials, FOMO, and Loneliness: An Investigation of the Impact of Social Networking and Messaging/VoIP Apps Usage During the Initial Stage of the Coronavirus Pandemic.PDF

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posted on 09.02.2021, 04:51 by Elena Fumagalli, Marina Belen Dolmatzian, L. J. Shrum

The current COVID-19 pandemic has had obvious, well-documented devastating effects on people's physical health. In this research, we investigate its potential effects on people's mental health. Many people have experienced social isolation, as countries attempt to stem the spread of the disease through confinement and other forms of social distancing. Intuitively, such social isolation may increase feelings of loneliness, and people may take logical steps to reduce their feelings of social isolation and loneliness. One route is through the use of social networking apps (e.g., Facebook, Instagram) and messaging and VoIP apps (e.g., WhatsApp, iMessage). In this research, we investigate the effects of pandemic-induced social isolation on social networking and messaging apps, and potential related effects on loneliness. We surveyed young adults (N = 334) who are part of the Centennial cohort (born after 1995) from three different countries (Italy, Argentina, UK) and obtained their screen time usage data over a 4-week period starting from mid-March 2020. This sampling procedure allowed us to obtain data from respondents who were experiencing different degrees of mandated social isolation (lockdowns), which enabled us to determine whether social network and messaging app usage increased as a function of social isolation, and to test potential effects on levels of loneliness. Results showed that only social network usage increased in the initial stage of confinement as a function of lockdown initiation. Additionally, social network app usage was associated with increased feelings of loneliness, and this relation was mediated by fear of missing out (FOMO). In contrast, messaging app usage was associated with decreased feelings of loneliness, and was unrelated to FOMO. These results suggest that technology may be useful for mitigating the impact of loneliness during social isolation but that it is necessary to promote usage of messaging and VoIP apps, rather than social networking apps, because they are directly associated with decreases in loneliness without increasing FOMO.

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