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Unsocial Media: How Technology Is Redefining The Meaning Of Friendship

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Has technology and our constant use of it brought us closer?

Or has it, instead, allowed us to exchange the deep meaning of intimacy and friendship for likes, retweets and shares?

"It's all about approval," says Percilla Esquijarosa, enjoying lunch with her sister and friends at a cafe in Miami. "I hate social media. I don't have Instagram, Facebook, none of that."

She shut down her social media accounts two years ago.

"I feel much better now that I eliminated that from my life," she says.

A study by the Pew Research Center shows 94 percent of teens say they spend time with friends on social media. With more than a billion users on Facebook alone, experts say social media networks offer instant gratification, giving us the ability to keep in touch.

But are we experiencing a false sense of connections?

"One of the things that we know is that psychological health and well-being depends on our ability to connect with each other. We don't do well when we are alone for long periods of time. We need to have that deep connection," says relationship counselor Teresa Albizu.

Albizu says she sees people investing a lot of time on online interactions and not enough time on real-life friendships. We sacrifice conversation for connections that she says eventually lead to feelings of lonliness and isolation.

"In spite of all this connectivity, how we are feeling so isolated, because it keeps us from getting together. It keeps us away from really sharing in a much deeper personal level," Albizu says.

Some social media users say they've noticed the depth of their friendships have changed.

"Social media is only about good times. Friendship needs to be there through good and bad, thick and thin. Be there, be present, be physical. I need to see physical presence not just superficial," says Joslin Esquijarosa.

Studies have connected real life social support to positive mental health. But with more and more people cultivating their virtual relationships, how is it that lonliness has become the most common ailment in the modern world?

"When we sit face to face, my ability to see your eyes, to see your facial expressions, to see your non-verbal behavior, it gives me cues," Albizu says.

Experts urge us to realize that we only have 24 hours in a day and the more time you spend on social media, the less time you have for real world friendships.

"You're too busy to really spend the time where it needs to be -- which is with the true friends that nurture your emotional connection with them. The important thing is how do you keep that balance," Albizu asks.

It takes you making a conscious effort to put the phone down and stay present.

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