Social Networking effect ‘Tiny’ in teenagers, large study finds
The impacts of social media usage on adolescent life satisfaction are restricted and likely”tiny”, a study of 12,000 UK adolescents suggests.
Family, friends and college life all had a larger impact on health, says that the University of Oxford research team.
It asserts its research is more in-depth and powerful than previous ones.
And it encouraged companies to release data on how people use social networking so as to know more about the effect of technology on young people’s lives.
The analysis, published in the journal PNAS, tries to answer the question of whether teens using social media over average have lower life satisfaction, or whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social websites.
Past research on the connection between displays, engineering and children’s mental health has often been conflicting.
Prof Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben, from the Oxford Internet Institute in the University of Oxford, state it’s often based on limited evidence that does not provide the entire picture.
Their study concluded that many links between life satisfaction and social networking usage were”trivial”, accounting for less than 1 percent of a teenager’s health – and that the impact of social media was”not a one-way road”.
Prof Przybylski, director of research at the institute, said:”99.75percent of someone’s life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social networking.”
The study, which took place between 2009 and 2017, requested tens of thousands of 10 to 15-year-olds to state the length of time they spent using social networking on a normal school day and also rate how happy they were with unique aspects of life.
They discovered greater effects of time spent on social websites in women, but they were tiny and no bigger than effects found in boys.
Less than half of the effects were statistically significant, they said.
“Parents shouldn’t be concerned about time on social media – considering it that way isn’t right,” Prof Przybylski said.
“We’re fixated on time – but we will need to retire this idea of display time.
“The results aren’t showing evidence for great concern.”
The researchers said it was important to identify young people at higher risk from certain effects of social networking and learn other aspects that were having an effect on their wellbeing.
They intend to satisfy social networking companies shortly to talk about how they could work together to find out more about how folks use apps – not only the time spent on them.
‘First little step’
Ms Orben, a co-study writer and psychology lecturer at the University of Oxford, said the industry must release their user data and encourage independent research.
“Access is important to understanding the many roles that social media plays in the lives of young people,” she said.
Dr Max Davie, an officer for health improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, backed the call for businesses to collaborate with scientists and called the study”the first little step”.
But he said there were other issues to research, such as screen time’s interference with other essential activities like sleep, sleep and time with family or friends.
“We recommend that households follow our advice published earlier this year and continue to prevent screen use for an hour before bed, as there are other reasons beside mental health for children to need a good night’s sleep.”