While many people (particular those of an older generation) have been assuming for years that teens' hefty consumption of social media has been negatively altering their brains, a new study suggests there is may actually be very little impact.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
We all assume that teenagers and people under the age of 25 in general are doing massive harm to themselves due to all the screen time they give to social media. That may not be the case, as a team from Oxford University studied 12,000 adolescents and discovered that social media actually had very little impact on their brains.
The study, published in the scientific journal PNAS, found that social media had a trivial effect on the happiness of the teenagers they studied. It had been thought that the normal (to them) amount of social media consumption would lead to a decrease of life satisfaction, which would lead into a spiral of more consumption. The study disproved that assumption.
Even though past studies have seemed to indicate that social media consumption causes a negative effect on the user, the Oxford researchers claim that those studies were limited in scope that never painted a full picture of what truly was happening.
Prof Andrew Przybylski, director of research and co-author of the study, said, “99.75% of a person’s life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media.”
The study looked at how 10 to 15 year olds spent their day online. It discovered that girls were slightly more affected by social media, but not that much differently than for boys.
But the study was somewhat incomplete. It did not take into account social usage’s interference with important activities like sleep, exercise and time with family or friends.
The authors feel that more research is needed, and it should come from data released from the major social networks. Each network closely holds its data and doesn’t make it available to researchers, making more detailed studies more difficult.
So if you’re worried that your kid’s screen time is damaging to his or her health, that very well may be true in the long run, but the latest research doesn’t bear that out.