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Despite Advances in Social Media, Face-to-Face May Be Best for Mental Health

Despite Advances in Social Media, Face-to-Face May Be Best for Mental Health

While personality and social psychologists from four research groups in the U.S. and Canada suggest text messaging and social media can have emotional and psychological benefits, the benefits often fail to match those of in-person social interactions.

In one study, 64 young adult women took part in a stress task and were then randomly assigned to receive emotional support via text, face-to-face communication, or no support.

Researchers discovered face-to-face support proved to be significantly better than text message support in creating positive mood. However, participants rated the different support systems as being similarly.

“While text messaging may contribute to positive relationship outcomes, it may be less effective at reducing the emotional impact of an acute stressor,” writes Dr. Susan Holtzman, University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

Another study, from a group including Dr. Patricia Greenfield of University of California, Los Angeles, showed that increasing in-person interactions in preteens greatly improves their recognition of nonverbal emotion.

In that experiment, 51 preteens spent five days at an overnight nature camp where television, computers, and mobile phones were not allowed. They compared this group with school-based students who continued with their usual media practices. Those who spent five days away from technology showed significant improvement in recognizing nonverbal emotion cues.

Since this research focuses on young adults, adolescents, and children, more research is needed to determine how well these findings generalize to other age groups.

“Digitally-mediated social interactions can have a positive impact on sense of belonging, bonding, self-esteem, and mood among adolescents and young adults. However, the benefits of text messaging and social media often fail to match those of in-person social interactions.” said Holtzman.

Dr. Amori Mikami at the University of British Columbia added that some individuals seem to be more at risk of the negative effects of social media, such as those who are disliked by their peers.

Said Holtzman, “Digitally-mediated communication cannot be considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for our health — it has both costs and benefits.”

The results were presented as part of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 17th Annual Convention.

Source: Society for Personality and Social Psychology/EurekAlert

Despite Advances in Social Media, Face-to-Face May Be Best for Mental Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Despite Advances in Social Media, Face-to-Face May Be Best for Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/02/01/despite-advances-in-social-media-face-to-face-best-for-mental-health/98495.html


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Feb 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.