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.
Lower life satisfaction led to increased social media use and vice versa, but the effects were more consistent for females than for males, said the study, adding that these were modest trends.
“Given the rapid pace of technological advancement in recent years, the question of how our increasing use of technology to interact with each other affects our well-being has become increasingly important,” said Andrew Przybylski, Professor at University of Oxford in Britain.
The study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that social media effects are not a one-way street — they are nuanced, reciprocal, possibly contingent on gender.
To understand how long teenagers spent using social media on a normal school day and their corresponding life satisfaction ratings, the researchers used an eight-year survey of UK households.
The researchers aimed to study not only whether adolescents who report more social media use have lower life satisfaction but also whether the reverse is true.
The researchers selected the “UK Household Panel Study” for their analysis because it provided the highest quality longitudinal data available.
“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,” said Amy Orben of University of Oxford.