Studies reveal that on average the more time we spend interacting online, via text message or phone, the less we are inclined to spend face-to-face time with friends, family and colleagues. This is particularly true with teens who tend to favor socially interactive technologies (SIT) such as instant messaging (IM), social media, and text, as a mode of communication over real-life interactions.
Social media and social anxiety
Among the reasons cited for SIT’s overwhelming popularity is the ability to control not only how the user interacts with the other person but also the message itself, because they have more time to think about their response. Similarly individuals with social anxiety, shyness and social phobia could feel more comfortable communicating through internet or text, because they would be able to enjoy social bonding with someone without having to fear certain social situations such as blushing, stammering, others’ perception of them, etc…
For example, a study found that women with social anxiety tend to feel more comfortable communicating online rather than face-to-face. The current paper replicates those results by showing that female high school students with social anxiety tend to use socially interactive medias (e.g., IM, chat rooms, social medias, etc…) as a way to interact with others more than male students with the same disorder, and they felt more comfortable doing it that way. Of particular interest is the finding that female adolescents also reported feeling more insecure in social situations than their male counterparts, supporting previous research indicating that social anxiety is more prevalent among women than men.
In addition, the authors report that adolescents choose to replace face-to-face communication with socially interactive technology, and that social anxiety is influencing this use.
Pierce, T. (2009). Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(6), 1367–1372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2009.06.003