Oxford: Teens' life satisfaction has 'nothing to do' with how much they use social media

Just how much is social media use affecting children?

Oxford: Teens' life satisfaction has 'nothing to do' with how much they use social media
Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / Getty Images
  • Study finds that children's use of social media has a trivial effect on them.
  • Satisfaction and happiness is not as connected to social media as originally thought.
  • Only girls reduced their use of social media when they felt discontented.

Social media is a scourge to some and a mere distraction for others. Much has been said about the negative consequences of unchecked social media use. It has even become common wisdom to want to limit your screen time and limit kids' time online. Yet, there seems to be some positive news that social media isn't doing that much harm to developing children and teenagers.

A new in-depth study by researchers at the University of Oxford attempted to answer whether teenagers and adolescents who use social media more than average are less happier in life — or if unhappiness encourages them to use social media more.

Results of the study

The study, which assessed trends between 2009 and 2017, was published on May 6 in the journal PNAS. During that time, researchers asked 12,000 10- to 15- year-olds about their social media use. They questioned how much time they spend during a normal school day and then rated how satisfied they were with other aspects of their life.

The researchers found that the effects of time spent on social media appeared to be more diverse and wide-ranging for girls rather than boys, but they remarked that these effects were tiny.

Professor Andy Przybylski, one of the coauthors of the research stated: "99.75 percent of a young person's life satisfaction across a year has nothing to do with whether they are using more or less social media".

Przybylski went on to say:

"It is entirely possible that there are other, specific, aspects of social media that are really not good for kids … or that there are some young people who are more or less vulnerable because of some background factor."

Social media and adolescents

Returning back to the statistical discrepancy between girls, the authors found that:

"There might be small reciprocal within-person effects in females, with increases in life satisfaction predicting slightly lower social media use, and increases in social media use predicting tenuous decreases in life satisfaction."

There was a consistency in girls being less satisfied about aspects of life in correlation to a slight reduction in social media use. Although, this might have meant that the girls were just better at reporting how they felt.

The relations linking social media use and life satisfaction are, therefore, more nuanced than previously assumed: They are inconsistent, possibly contingent on gender, and vary substantially depending on how the data are analyzed. Most effects are tiny — arguably trivial; where best statistical practices are followed, they are not statistically significant in more than half of models. That understood, some effects are worthy of further exploration and replication.

One of the teams' key takeaways was for parents to stop worrying about how long their kids were online in these mediums. Instead, learn how to talk to them about their experiences.

Researcher, Amy Orben stated:

"Just as things went awry offline, things will also go awry online, and it is really important for that communication channel to be open."

COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Willie Mae Daniels makes melted cheese sandwiches with her granddaughter, Karyah Davis, 6, after being laid off from her job as a food service cashier at the University of Miami on March 17, 2020.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

Who is the highest selling artist from your state?

What’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota?

Eminem may be 'from' Detroit, but he was born in Missouri
Culture & Religion

This is a mysterious map. Obviously about music, or more precisely musicians. But what’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota? None of these musicians are from those states! Everyone knows that! Is this map that stupid, or just looking for a fight? Let’s pause a moment and consider our attention spans, shrinking faster than polar ice caps.

Keep reading Show less

Skyborne whales: The rise (and fall) of the airship

Can passenger airships make a triumphantly 'green' comeback?

R. Humphrey/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

Large airships were too sensitive to wind gusts and too sluggish to win against aeroplanes. But today, they have a chance to make a spectacular return.

Keep reading Show less

Vegans are more likely to suffer broken bones, study finds

Vegans and vegetarians often have nutrient deficiencies and lower BMI, which can increase the risk of fractures.

Credit: Jukov studi via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • The study found that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer fractures than meat eaters.
  • Similar results were observed for vegetarians and fish eaters, though to a lesser extent.
  • It's possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, though it takes some strategic planning to compensate for the nutrients that a plant-based diet can't easily provide.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast