Study finds internet linked to positive wellbeing

Study finds internet linked to positive wellbeing

Positive Internet

A new study by the Oxford Internet Institute suggests that internet access and use is consistently associated with positive wellbeing. The research analyzed data from 168 countries and highlights the overall benefits of internet use. The study calls for data-driven regulation rather than anecdote-based approaches. Professor Andrew Przybylski of Oxford University, who led the research, said, “If we’re going to make the online world safe for young people, we need to make sure that we’re sensitive to having our minds changed by data.”

The study analyzed data from around two million individuals aged 15 to 99 worldwide between 2006 and 2021. It found that people with internet access reported greater life satisfaction and social wellbeing. Despite some associations between internet use and negative community wellbeing among young women aged 15 to 24, the overall findings were positive. Statistician Professor Kevin McConway commented that although the research was broad, it cast serious doubt on the view that the Internet is universally harmful.

Internet use and wellbeing study

Dr. Ruth Plackett of University College London also emphasized the importance of the study but noted its limitations, particularly the lack of differentiation between general internet use and specific platforms like social media. Simone Vibert, head of policy and research at Internet Matters, stated that their research similarly showed the benefits and the need for an evidence-based approach to policy. The researchers acknowledged that the study cannot conclusively prove cause and effect, citing income increases as a potential alternative explanation for improved wellbeing. Nevertheless, the findings provide important lessons for policymakers. Professor Przybylski stressed the need for more peer-reviewed studies, particularly in non-English-speaking and less wealthy nations, to guide future policies. The study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Technology, Mind and Behavior.

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