Study finds using the internet is good for your wellbeing

Woman enjoying a break from working out to use laptop | Credit: Quality Stock / Alamy Stock Photo.
Woman enjoying break from working out to use her laptop | Credit: Quality Stock / Alamy Stock Photo.

A new study has revealed that using the internet may actually be good for your wellbeing. 

The study, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute which is part of the University of Oxford, analysed data from two million people aged 15 to 99 in 168 countries and found that 84.9 per cent of associations between internet connectivity and wellbeing is likely to be positive.

Wellbeing was also measured according to eight indicators, including life satisfaction, daily negative and positive experiences, and physical wellbeing. Elements such as education and health were also taken into consideration.

Social media use was not looked at, however.

Also in the study, the Oxford Internet Institute also found that 4.9 per cent of associations linking internet use and community wellbeing were negative, with most of those observed among women aged 15 to 24 years old.

Speaking on what they found, Andrew Przybylski, who is the professor of human behaviour and technology at the Oxford Internet Institute, hopes the findings will bring a different argument to the debate. But he admitted there is still work to be done.

He said: “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 screen time 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.”

Assistant professor Matti Vuorre from Tilburg University, who was previously research associate at Oxford Internet Institute, said: “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.”

On top of this, Prof Przybylski claims that in order to look deeper into claims that the internet could be good for your wellbeing, more evidence is required.

He added: “It’s a bit cliche, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

“And if we’re to make the online world safer for young people, we just can’t go in guns blazing with strong prior beliefs and one-size-fits-all solutions.

“We really need to make sure that we’re sensitive to having our minds changed by data, and I really hope that that message comes through instead of just another volley, in another silly debate.”