Context: Baumeister and Leary (1995) argued that we have a fundamental motivation to form and maintain positive relationships. So fundamental is the need to belong that deprivation of belongingness is associated with undesirable psychological consequences such as the experience of loneliness.

Since the publication of Baumeister and Leary’s (1995) seminal paper, we have seen the proliferation of smartphones and online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Online social networking offers an unprecedented opportunity to easily connect with many others, and so might satisfy belongingness needs and reduce loneliness. But perhaps online relationships are an inadequate substitute for the real thing.

Essay Question: Critically evaluate the statement that ‘using online social networking sites reduces loneliness.’

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