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500 friends? You're not that popular in real life

500 friends? You're not that popular in real life

Fri June 29, 2012 12:27am

HAVING heaps of friends on Facebook and Twitter is no cure for loneliness, the author of new research says.

We've known for a while now that being lonely isn't good for your health.

And being online all the time won't cheer you up either.

So what's the answer? (Save me Sean Parker!)

Well, it's not adding more friends, that's for sure.

In fact, a report for the Australia Institute says lonely people may use social media to find social support, but they have fewer Facebook friends and count fewer of them as "real friends".

Quality, not quantity, of social connections is critical in determining loneliness, Australia Institute director and report author David Baker says.

He says social media shouldn't be treated as a cure for loneliness, and online social contact may in fact mask real social disconnection.

"Given the rapid increase in the use of social media and the government's policy focus on 'social inclusion', there is a risk that social networking sites may be overpromoted, especially to younger people," Australia Institute director and report author David Baker said.

You should also remember that social media is very unreliable.

That's why there are sites like news.com.au to set you straight. (coughs)

People who were not lonely reported greater quality in social networking connections, while more than 50 per cent of lonely people counted fewer than a third of their Facebook friends as real friends, the report says.

On a positive note, lonely social media users were proactively using social media to address their isolation.

They reported an increase in contact with family and friends since the advent of the technology.

The research found adults living on their own or as single parents were more likely to experience loneliness, with men living on their own at twice the risk as women.

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