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Young women only group not reacting positive to using internet

Using the internet is likely to be good for your wellbeing despite popular worries that it’s bad. But there is an uncertainty when it comes to young women which is in line with earlier reports on cyberbullying and depression symptoms linked to social media use, according to a  new international study from the Oxford Internet Institute, part of the University of Oxford

The study shows 84.9% positive associations between internet connectivity and well-being.  But close to 5% were negative – with the most observed among women aged 15-to-24 years old.

The study comprises two million persons aged 15 to 99 in 168 countries, including Latin America, Asia, and Africa and found internet access and use was consistently associated with positive wellbeing.

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Assistant Professor Matti Vuorre, Tilburg University and Research Associate, Oxford Internet Institute and Professor Andrew Przybylski, Oxford Internet Institute carried out the study to assess how technology relates to wellbeing.

“Whilst internet technologies and platforms and their potential psychological consequences remain debated, research to date has been inconclusive and of limited geographic and demographic scope. The overwhelming majority of studies have focused on the Global North and younger people thereby ignoring the fact that the penetration of the internet has been, and continues to be, a global phenomenon, says Przybylski

The researchers studied eight indicators of wellbeing: life satisfaction, daily negative and positive experiences, two indices of social wellbeing, physical wellbeing, community wellbeing and experiences of purpose.

“We were surprised to find a positive correlation between wellbeing and internet use across the majority of the thousands of models we used for our analysis”, Vuorre says.

The only negative experiences were for 15–24-year-old women. The study shows that this negative experience  was general and not likely driven by something particularly negative.

The report says this finding is concordant with previous reports of increased cyberbullying and more negative associations between social media use and depressive symptoms. 

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While 84.9% of associations between internet connectivity and wellbeing were positive, almost 5% of the associations were negative – with the most observed among women aged 15-to-24 years old.

“Further research should investigate whether low community wellbeing drives engagement with the internet or vice versa.”

Adds Przybylski, “Overall we found that average associations were consistent across internet adoption predictors and wellbeing outcomes, with those who had access to or actively used the internet reporting meaningfully greater wellbeing than those who did not”.

“We hope our findings bring some greater context to the screentime debate however further work is still needed in this important area.  We urge platform providers to share their detailed data on user behaviour with social scientists working in this field for transparent and independent scientific enquiry, to enable a more comprehensive understanding of internet technologies in our daily lives.”

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