Effect of social media on life satisfaction of teens ‘trivial’

Widespread fears over the harmful effects on teenagers of spending hours on social media could be misplaced according to a major British study. Stock image

Widespread fears over the harmful effects on teenagers of spending hours on social media could be misplaced according to a major British study. Stock image

While social media use has limited role in lowering life satisfaction of teenagers, the effects are more among girls than boys, says a study of 12,000 British teenagers.

Some 12,000 British teenagers were analysed over an eight-year survey of United Kingdom households and researchers found that spending more time on sites such as Facebook has a "trivial" impact on how content adolescents are with their lives.

The published study appeared in the journal PNAS and did find that lower life satisfaction led to an increase in social media use and social media use led to a lower life satisfaction, but these developments were "modest". But again, the team said, the effects were very small, and noted girls might just be better at reporting how they feel.

The report said that parents should stop worrying about the amount of time young people spend on social media and instead talk to them about their experiences. "Thinking about social media like it's a black box that has kind of a ticking clock on top of it - that way of thinking about screen time is nearly certainly wrong".

The current research has used improved data and statistical approaches and found most links between life satisfaction and social media use were trivial.

The Oxford Professor said there was nothing "magical" about social media.

However, he said there were other issues to explore, such as screen time's interference with other important activities like sleep, exercise and time with family or friends.

"We imply that households apply our steerage published earlier this 300 and sixty five days and continue to ebook obvious of show use for one hour earlier than bed, since there are other reasons beside psychological health for younger of us to need an accurate night's sleep".

The study, which took place between 2009 and 2017, asked thousands of 10 to 15-year-olds to say how long they spent using social media on a normal school day and also rate how satisfied they were with different aspects of life. Those who had spent more time on social media had 2.2 times the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, compared to their peers who spent less time on social media.

Prof Liz Twigg from Portsmouth University, who is now leading a large-scale study of the impact of social media on children, welcomed the study.

Przybylski stressed that a lot of the data necessary to do more nuanced analysis of how young people spend their time online hasn't been made available by the companies that profit from their habits.

Amy Orben, College Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Oxford, highlights that: 'The previous literature was based nearly entirely on correlations with no means to dissociate whether social media use leads to changes in life satisfaction or changes in life satisfaction influence social media use'.

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