A study of 12,000 teenagers in the United Kingdom suggests that the effects of using social networks on the satisfaction of teenagers’ lives are limited and probably “small”.
Family, friends and school life had a greater impact on well-being, says the research team at the University of Oxford.
He affirms that his study is deeper and more robust than the previous ones.
And he urged companies to disseminate data on how people use social networks to better understand the impact of technology on young people’s lives.
The study, published in the journal PNAS, tries to answer the question of whether adolescents who use social networks more than average have less satisfaction with life, or if adolescents with less satisfaction with life use more networks social.
Previous research on the relationship between screens, technology and children’s mental health has often been contradictory.
Professor Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben, of the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, say that it is often based on limited evidence that does not give the full picture.
Their study concluded that most of the links between life satisfaction and the use of social networks were “trivial”, which represented less than 1% of an adolescent’s well-being, and that the effect of social networks was not ” a oneway street”.
Professor Przybylski, director of research at the institute, said: “99.75% of the satisfaction of a person’s life has nothing to do with the use of social networks.”
Tips on how to limit excessive screen time
How much screen time is ‘too much’?
Instagram ‘helped kill my daughter’
Girl of 12 years “hooked” on self-harm images.
The study, which took place between 2009 and 2017, asked thousands of children aged 10 to 15 to say how much time they spent using social networks on a normal school day and also assessed how satisfied they were with different aspects of life.
They found more effects of time spent on social networks in girls, but they were small and no bigger than the effects found on children.
Less than half of these effects were statistically significant, they said.
“Parents shouldn’t worry about social media time because they think that’s wrong,” said Professor Przybylski.
“We are fixed in time, but we must remove this idea of the screen time.
“The results show no evidence of major concern.”
The researchers said it is now important to identify young people who are at increased risk for certain effects of social networks and to discover other factors that affect their well-being.
They plan to meet social media companies soon to discuss how they can work together to learn more about how people use applications, not just the time they spend on them.
“First small step”
Orben, co-author and professor of psychology at the University of Oxford, said the industry should release its usage data and support independent research.
“Access is essential for understanding the many roles that social networks play in the lives of young people,” he said.
Dr. Max Davie, health enhancer at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, endorsed the call to companies to collaborate with scientists and called the study “the first small step”.
However, he said there were other topics to explore, such as on-screen interference with other important activities such as sleeping, exercising, and spending time with family or friends.
“We recommend that families follow our guide published this year and prevent them from using the screen one hour before going to sleep because there are other reasons for having a good night’s sleep in addition to mental health.”