New Study Advises Social Media Effect is Tiny—if Any—In Teenagers

There has been a lot of concern over the effects of social media on the youngest consumers but a new study suggests these may be far less significant than we thought.  Actually, the University of Oxford study advises that family and friends and school life may have the bigger impact than anything else. 

While there have been many studies about the effects of social media, this one claims to be the most in-depth. Furthermore, the extensive study now urges that companies should release more data about the way people use social media in order to better understand how technology can, in fact, impact the lives of young people.

This study aimed to look at whether or not teenagers who use social media more than the average user have lower satisfaction in their daily life.  Concurrently, the study also investigated whether adolescents who have lower life satisfaction tend to be more engaged with social media than the average user. 

For the study, the research team analyzed data collected in a previous UK survey, between 2009 and 2016, which involved nearly 12,500 adolescents, from age 10 to 15.  The research team carried out more than 2,000 analyses in order to observe the data in a variety of ways. This way, they could investigate the impact of several factors that influence a child’s life and well-being. 

Sure enough, the results show there is actually no significant link between life satisfaction and time with social media. And this association was the same among different children as well as with individual children over time. 

Actually, lead study author Amy Orben of Oxford University, “Changes in an adolescent’s media use can explain only 0.25 percent of changes in their life satisfaction one year later. Vice versa, fluctuations in their life satisfaction can only explain 0.04 percent of changes in their social media use one year later, which is a tiny effect as well.”

To put it another—more general—way, the study found that while duration of social media exposure results in more effects for girls, these instances were very small and not any more dramatic than those found in boys.  In all, not even half of these effects were statistically significant. 

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.