Loneliness is Negatively Related to Facebook Network Size, but Not Related to Facebook Network Structure

Riana M. Brown, Sam G. B. Roberts, Thomas Pollet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

High levels of loneliness are associated with poorer outcomes for physical and mental health and a large body of research has examined how using social media sites such as Facebook is associated with loneliness. Time spent on Facebook tends to be associated with higher levels of loneliness, whereas a larger number of Facebook Friends and more active use of Facebook tends to be associated with lower levels of loneliness. However, whilst the network size and structure of ‘offline’ networks have been associated with loneliness, how the network structure on Facebook is associated with loneliness is still unclear. In this study, participants used the Getnet app to directly extract information on network size (number of Facebook Friends), density, number of clusters in the network, and average path length from their Facebook networks, and completed the 20-item UCLA Loneliness questionnaire. In total, 107 participants (36 men, 71 women, Mage = 20.6, SDage = 2.7) took part in the study. Participants with a larger network size reported significantly lower feelings of loneliness. In contrast, network density, number of clusters, and average path length were not significantly related to loneliness. These results suggest that whilst having a larger Facebook network is related to feelings of social connection to others, the structure of the Facebook network may be a less important determinant of loneliness than other factors such as active or passive use of Facebook and individual characteristics of Facebook users.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages20
JournalCyberpsychology
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021

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