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Do Cell Phone’s Technologies Promote Loneliness?

The influence of mobile phones on people’s psychological well-being has already been thoroughly studied. However, it remains a controversial issue because there are different points of view regarding it. Although there are those who claim that mobile apps and social media that can be achieved through cell phones lead to psychological distress. This essay will argue the idea that cellular phone’s technologies promote loneliness. On the contrary, they make building relationships easier, help older people maintain communication, and create a sense of belonging.

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Firstly, location-based mobile apps for dating, such as Tinder, do not promote loneliness because they help to build relationships between people more easily and effectively. The possibility to choose potential partners considering location and interests results in a greater likelihood of finding a person with the closest outlook on life among those nearby (Ranzini and Lutz 82). According to Ranzini and Lutz, the specifics of such apps imply that it is easy to use frequently on daily basis, and the ability to use it free increases the number of potential users, which expand the range of potential partners. Moreover, apps for dating are convenient for sexual minorities because it is easy to determine a person’s orientation, which is not always immediately clear in real life. Conducting online conversations with several people at once helps reduce loneliness and make a choice in favor of meeting with the most suitable candidate. Thus, it can be said that the abilities promoted by dating apps help eliminate loneliness as they expand the circle of potential acquaintances.

Secondly, social media, which are easy to access frequently through mobile phones, help older people alleviate the feeling of loneliness. Wilson advocates the view, that mobile devices encourage older people to communicate with relatives and friends (1330). Mobile phones that provide older adults with access to mobile chats and social media contribute to their socialization despite the inability to be near family members and friends. Older people are lonely because they tend to live away from their family and have mobility issues The entertainment and communication that mobile apps and social media provide to older people are relevant in conditions of limited mobility, isolation from family and restricted social contacts in real life.

Thirdly, social networks with a lot of visual photo content, such as Instagram, also contribute to lowering loneliness because they create a sense of presence at the events that are depicted there. In their study on the relation between Instagram and its users’ psychological welfare, Mackson et al. declare that social media and this feeling of presence lead to the sense of belonging (2164). By looking at events in other people’s lives, an individual possesses a natural psychological sense of belonging to some groups and participating in important social interactions, although they are not familiar with these people. In addition, photo content involves “liking”, which provides “users with a sense of online appreciation” (Mackson et al. 2164). Therefore, image-based social media allow people to feel engaged in social interactions more often and respected by society. Feeling of recognition by society eliminates loneliness, even if a person does not interact with other people in real life.

However, an opposing point of view claims that any possible benefits that mobile dating apps and social media can offer are less significant than disadvantages that they contribute to strengthen loneliness. Mobile phones make people use social media habitually, and “people who frequently use social media are more likely to report psychological distress, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression” (Mackson et al. 2163). This happens due to frequent social comparison, which obliges people to think that their lives are less interesting than other’s lives. Dating apps provide a massive selection of applicants, which encourages people not to stick to one option but to look for more and more partners. Hence, people do not build deep relationships, their connections are superficial, and loneliness increases because, in the face of multiple choice, many people do not want to maintain long-term relationships. However, this point of view is associated with several issues. Firstly, the relation between depression, anxiety and social media has not been proven yet (Mackson et al. 2160). Secondly, dating apps and social media allow users to stay in contact with family members and friends, “who would otherwise be contacted less frequently” (Mackson et al. 2163). Thus, they give people social support and beneficial social interactions that, even not being serious, contribute to eradicating loneliness.

To conclude, there is an opinion that mobile dating apps and social media, which are used extraordinary often because of mobile phones, are associated with psychological troubles and interfere with building full-fledged relationships. Nevertheless, cellular phone’s technologies do not promote loneliness due to the number of factors. They expand the number of social interactions, provide essential social support, contribute to older people’s communication with family members and friends, and create a feeling of solidarity and belonging to important groups.

References

Mackson, Samantha B., et al. “Instagram: Friend or Foe? The Application’s Association with Psychological Well-Being.” New Media & Society, vol. 21, no. 10, 2019, pp. 2160–2182. Web.

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Ranzini, Giulia, and Christoph Lutz. “Love at First Swipe? Explaining Tinder Self-Presentation and Motives.” Mobile Media & Communication, vol. 5, no. 1, 2017, pp. 80–101. Web.

Wilson, Carolyn. “Is It Love or Loneliness? Exploring the Impact of Everyday Digital Technology Use on the Wellbeing of Older Adults.” Ageing and Society, vol. 38, no. 7, 2017, pp. 1307–1331. Web.

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