Student Loneliness: The Role of Social Media through Life Transitions

Lisa Thomas, Elizabeth Orme, Finola Kerrigan

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103 Citations (Scopus)
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The move to university can be difficult for students- a transition often characterised by a risk of loneliness and poor mental health. Previous work highlights the important role social media can play in this transition. We report findings from a large-scale survey of 510 first year undergraduates across the UK, identifying factors that predict student loneliness, and exploring their social media use. Higher levels of social capital, induction satisfaction, and sense of community are significantly associated with lower levels of loneliness. Conversely, those reporting a more ‘liminal self’- the desire to edit and reinvent yourself online- experience greater loneliness- with an indirect relationship between online social information seeking and loneliness, through social capital. We surmise that being ‘true to yourself’ online is important when starting university, and that social media can be a useful tool in facilitating offline relationships and maintaining ties to old friends.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103754
JournalComputers and Education
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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