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Loneliness and low self-esteem linked to lack of “likes” on social media

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like buttonA lack of “likes” on Facebook can result in loneliness and a lack of self-worth, according to researchers from the University of Queensland.

The effects of social media on a users social belonging have been the subject of two projects at the UQ School of Psychology led by Dr Stephanie Tobin.

Active participation on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can give users a greater sense of connection.

“Social networking sites such as Facebook, which has more than a billion users a month, give people immediate reminders of their social relationships and allow them to communicate with others whenever they want,” Dr Tobin said.

“Our research shows that feelings of belonging are threatened when users stop generating content or participating online, and when information they have posted does not receive a response from others.”

To gauge how people felt when they were deliberately ignored, researchers set up two studies.

The first gathered users who frequently posted online with half asked to actively post and the other half told to simply observe.

The second study had participants who used accounts set up by the researchers and were encouraged to post and comments on the posts of others.

Half received the feedback while the other half was ignored.

Dr Tobin said the results revealed that both the observers and ostracized respondents experiences lower levels of acceptance and belonging than those who received a response.

The group that was ignored also said they experienced lower levels of self-esteem.

“The studies allowed us to examine how belonging depends on how much people are sharing on Facebook, the kinds of experiences they are having on the site and whether they are being ignored or validated by others,” Dr Tobin said.

“The results clearly identified that active participation is necessary to decrease feelings of social rejection.”

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