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Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People

Introduction

In the past, loneliness was not recognized by psychiatric textbooks as a problem. Robert Heiss, a researcher at Harvard School however started carrying out research on the subject around 1970. He established that a number of Americans responded to being lonely in the first few weeks of the study. Thereafter, loneliness found its way into the books of psychology. Loneliness is considered a mental and physical condition that may have long-term detrimental effects which may shorten life. It is therefore important to assist this group of people to overcome loneliness and avert extreme situations caused by it (Gackenbach, 2007).

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It is human nature that we feel socially attached to others and in the absence of this, social problems are created that manifests themselves in detrimental ways. There have been many research studies to evaluate different social factors that affect loneliness. Many variables have been use to determine this relationship including: level of education, income levels, age among other variables. These variables have also been used to define different circumstances faced in life and define patterns of problems being experienced by most individuals. This research proposal will use it’s findings to analyze the conclusions that will be formulated from this research

The internet has been under much criticism considering its negative impact on the society; especially to children and in work places (Graziano, 2009).The internet has however been seen to be a variable in relationship building in that, it influences the way people interact socially. It is because of this reason that this study will seek to comprehend the influence of internet in developing relationships among shy and lonely people.

The internet has also revolutionized the social scene through social networking sites such as facebook and tweeter. These sites have affected the way shy and lonely people develop relationships online as opposed to offline (Raulin, 2010).However; personality traits have been noted to affect the overall diagnosis of loneliness among individuals. Personality traits in study such as self esteem and self efficacy have been noted to influence relationships through the internet and generally affect the way individuals would behave in the real world (Raulin, 2010). This information will be useful in evaluating our respondents in the way they perceive themselves as lonely or not.

The use of internet has been a factor in averting loneliness because the shy and lonely have been less inhibited in online relationships (Kaltial-Heino, Lintonen and Rimpela, 2004). Scealy, Phillips and Stevenson (2002) found that shy people were more likely to effectively form online relationships than they would, in a different setting. Online methods also expose lonely people to a wide range of activities that could be undertaken in social networking sites to overcome social inhibitions. This has been facilitated by the growing popularity of social internet sites such as tweeter, facebook and other online dating sites.

However, much study has been done to establish the effects of internet on the general population because both positive and negative effects have been observed. In addition, original research had been done to pit the internet as inferior to other forms of relationship building deemed more real. The internet has also been noted to result into loneliness too. It has been established that the internet can be addictive to most people, thereby affecting the way they would relate in real life situations (Tsai & Lin, 2003).

Research studies done in 1970 showed that loneliness was much widespread than previously thought. Its effects were also noted to be extensive. It was established that loneliness pre disposed an individual to diseases that could shorten life. Social life being a core facet of human life, more research should be done to establish relationships that affect loneliness.

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Personality traits and self esteem have also been noted to affect the perception of loneliness among individuals. Individuals with low self esteem have been observed to be lonelier than those with higher self esteem. Personality traits that people posses have also been a great determinant to the influence of loneliness in peoples’ lives. For instance, introverts have been noticed to succumb more to loneliness than extroverts (Scealy, Phillips, and Stevenson, 2002).

Research studies however showed that previous studies didn’t factor in personality traits in coming up with conclusive findings. This research will factor in personality in coming up with conclusive findings. Further studies revealed that older people felt much lonelier if they used social networking sites than if they used other channels to interact. However, it was established that the internet provided a non-threatening way to interact and this led to an overall improvement in offline relationships (Wallace, 2001).

Since social relationships are an integral part of normal, human life, effects of loneliness affect the overall well being of an individual. This effect will be replicated in all levels of a person’s life including work, personality, education and other facets of life. There are many ways that could be used to overcome loneliness, but this research proposal will seek to analyze if the use of internet and other social networking sites is an effective tool to aid shy and lonely people develop relationships (Johansson and Gotestam, 2004).

Literature review

Other variables have been used to establish this relationship. Resultant relationships have been established to show the co-relation; for example, loneliness has been noted to affect boys and men more than girls and women. People living alone, with less education and of lower incomes have also been observed to be lonelier than others of contrary variables. The same trend has been noticed for extreme age groups; more specifically adolescents and elderly persons (Young, 2002).

Loneliness is therefore a condition that affects people of all age groups and demographics. It is however variant in that the levels of loneliness tend to vary at every stage of a person’s life. Considering the social environment in the world today, many people, young and old have been observed to be engrossed in the demanding social environment that characterizes the world today. The demanding social environment inhibits many people from forming relationships out of work places or other social settings. With this trend, loneliness is bound to be a prevalent condition to most people.

Studies done in Finland, Taiwan and part of Asia revealed that internet addiction was quite prevalent among the youth aged between 12-18 years. It was further established that the prevalence rate was about 8%-10%, but there was no relationship established between internet usage and shyness (Johansson & Gotestam, 2004, p.228). These studies advanced regarding internet use and loneliness will be quite useful for this study to draw a comparison between research findings and previous conclusions.

Research questions

  • Do social networking sites ease the development of relationships
  • Does shyness pre-dispose people to more internet use
  • Do personality traits affect the long-term effects of Internet use
  • Do social demographics affect the role of internet as an effective tool in building relationships

Hypothesis

H 1: Social networking sites reduce the levels of loneliness

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H 2: Shyness predisposes individuals to more internet use

H 3: Personality traits affect the long term effects of Internet on lonely people

H 4: Gender, Age and Ethnic Background play a role in the effectiveness of internet as a tool to overcome loneliness.

Methodology

This study will use a sample of 300 respondents but won’t generalize the findings to reflect the general population of shy and lonely people. The study will divide the sample study into two groups of 150 respondents each. One group will be a control group while the other would be an intervention group. This initiative would be to contrast the findings appropriately to come up with a comprehensive analysis.

To come up with a true measure of shyness, the study will incorporate the use of Social Reticence Scale (SRS). In addition, the study will also incorporate the use of the Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI) scale which would further analyze general feelings of participants against the Likert scale which will be used to effectively analyze the different circumstances of the respondents. One attribute to determine internet usage among participants would be almost never. The second attribute would be Never. The third, Often and the fourth would be Sometimes.

Participants

The 300 participants would be selected randomly via a pre-survey at The University of the Sunshine Coast. The study will be available to both staff and students. The participants must however reach a certain criteria; they must have been lonely at one point in their lives and must have used a social networking site. The respondents would be chosen with regard to personality as a factor in choosing respondents deemed to be lonely or shy. The respondents would also be chosen across the board; including students and staff across age groups and other demographics such as gender. This will be done proportionately. A semi structured interview will be used to obtain data from respondents. Variables including age, gender, ethnic background and occupation would also be used as other variables for the study. The research would therefore select respondents across the selected variables homogenously.

Procedure

The first 150 participants (control group) would be a pilot study to test the feasibility of the research. The second 150 respondents would be the intervention group. In addition, the pilot study would also be used to check for errors in the methodology part of the research. The research study would be administered at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The initial semi-structured interview would run for approximately 15 minutes. The two groups (control and intervention) would be interviewed again in 3 months. The final interview would be carried out 6 months after the initial research.

Separation of the interview into two periods would seek to establish if there will be any variation in response. It will also provide enough time to re-structure the interview if there will be any inconsistencies noted in the methodology. Since the research study will be interviewing two sets of respondents, the two timeframes would provide a good ground to interview each set comprehensively. Interviewing 300 respondents in one time frame would prove tedious.

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Measure

The findings would be compared against previous studies to determine the variance in conclusions. Previous studies have shown that the level of shyness and loneliness is coherent with the level of internet usage, with more shy people observed to be able to form relationships much easier online than offline. This study will then analyze its conclusion and evaluate whether there will be any variance in the findings.

Data Analysis

The data would be analyzed using statistical techniques such as the use of graphs, pie charts and tables. Graphs would be used to formulate a co-relation between relationships built online and the shyness among respondents. Another graph would be used to establish a co-relation among the control group which will have the level of offline relationships built against the respondents who were either lonely or shy. The data will then be tabulated.

Limitations of the Study

The inability of the research to be generalized would be a limiting factor because the research would only be undertaken at Sunshine Coast. This study will therefore only provide credible grounds for further studies. However, further research should be done to estimate the general co-relation for internet usage as a method of averting loneliness and shyness. The different time frames the research is expected to be undertaken may lead to different results that might be hard to establish co-relation. The use of analysis tools such as Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI) scale has its own limitations in applicability which might eventually compromise the findings (Joinson, 2007).

The availability of the respondents during the second period of interviewing may be limiting, in the sense that the research would cover a period of six months and the academic calendar of the university might compromise the availability of the students. Measuring the research findings against previous studies also leaves the conclusions of this research vulnerable to the limitations of the previous research findings. The use of statistical techniques also summarizes the data in a way that details might be lost. The use of statistical data in analysis will tend to generalize the whole scenario and might overlook details that might be useful to the end users.

References

  1. Gackenbach, J. (2007). Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Implications. Elsevier/Academic Press.
  2. Graziano, A. (2009). Psychological Relationships: The Internet. Washington: American Psychological Association.
  3. Johansson, A., & Gotestam, K. G. (2004). Internet Addiction: Characteristics of a Questionnaire and Prevalence in Norwegian Youth (12-18 years). Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, (45), 223-229.
  4. Joinson, A. (2007). The Oxford Handbook Of Internet Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Kaltial-Heino, R., Lintonen, T., & Rimpela, A. (2004). Internet Addiction? Potentially Problematic Use of the Internet in a Population of 12-18 Year-Old Adolescents. Addiction Research and Theory, 12(1), 89-96.
  6. Raulin, M. (2010). Research Methods: A Process of Inquiry (7th Ed). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  7. Scealy, M., Phillips, J. G., & Stevenson, R. (2002). Shyness and Anxiety as Predictors of Patterns of Internet Usage. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 5(6), 507-515.
  8. Tsai, C., & Lin, S. J. (2003). Internet Addiction of Adolescents in Taiwan: An Interview Study. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 6(3), 649-652.
  9. Wallace, P. (2001). The Psychology of the Internet. London: Cambridge University Press.
  10. Young, K. S. (2002). Center for Online Addiction – Health and Resources for Internet Addicts.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 20). Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 20). Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People. https://studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/

Work Cited

"Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People." StudyCorgi, 20 Dec. 2021, studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People." December 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/.


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StudyCorgi. "Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People." December 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People." December 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/social-networking-sites-as-a-tool-for-shy-and-lonely-people/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Shy and Lonely People'. 20 December.

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