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social media’s effect on life satisfaction in adolescents

Much has been discussed about the role and influence of social media on young people, although there is a real lack of research in this field and our current understanding is limited. Researchers from the University of Oxford have studied a U.K. cohort of over 12,000 adolescents to look at the nature of the relationship between social media use and life satisfaction in more detail. Using longitudinal data, they were able to address not only whether greater social media use is associated with lower life satisfaction but also within-person effects – whether changes in social media use in an individual can predict changes in life satisfaction and whether changes in life satisfaction predict changes in social media use. The findings are published in PNAS.

The authors came to the SMC to discuss:

  • How is this study different to previous research in the field?
  • Does an adolescent using social media more than they do on average drive changes in life satisfaction?
  • Do changes in life satisfaction drive changes in social media use?
  • Are there any gender specific effects?
  • What are the limitations and what do we still not know?
  • What’s next for research in this area? How can industry help answer these questions?


Amy Orben, PhD student in Experimental Psychology and Stipendiary College Lecturer, University of Oxford

Prof Andrew Przybylski, Associate Professor and Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

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