– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – As any parent will know, it’s a struggle to get a teenager to switch off from social media.
However, researchers from the University of Oxford have now conducted a study into how long teens spent using platforms like Facebook and Instagram on a normal school day and their corresponding life satisfaction ratings, and found that social media has a “trivial” effect on happiness.
“The current research has used improved data and statistical approaches and found most links between life satisfaction and social media use were trivial,” the study authors commented in a statement. “Yet there were some bidirectional effects: Lower life satisfaction led to increased social media use and vice versa. These bidirectional effects were more consistent for females than for males, but again, these were modest trends.”
For the research, the investigators used an eight-year survey of U.K. households involving 12,000 British teenagers.
While the U.K. Household Panel Study provided the highest quality longitudinal data available, the authors noted that they were limited to the use of self-reported social media usage because of the lack of sharing between social media companies and scientists who are “trying to investigate their impact”.
Looking to the future, the researchers hope to further delve into the many roles that social media plays in the lives of young people.
“While our study is a very promising step towards robust science in this area, it is only the first step. To ultimately understand how the diverse uses of social media affect teenagers we need industry data,” Amy Orben, a college lecturer in psychology at the University of Oxford, added.
Full results have been published in the journal PNAS.