However, studies looking for a direct relationship between social media and happiness have yet to find many.
“There are hundreds of these studies, almost all of which show beneficial effects,” says Jeff Hancock, a behavioral psychologist at Stanford University who performed a meta-analysis of 226 such studies. quite small movement.
What’s remarkable about the new study, said Dr Hancock, who was not involved in the study, is its scope. It includes two surveys in the UK with a total of 84,000 people. One of those surveys followed more than 17,000 teenagers ages 10 to 21 over time, showing how their social media consumption and life satisfaction ratings changed. from year to year.
“Just in terms of scale, it’s amazing,” said Dr. Hancock. The rich age-based analysis is a big improvement over previous studies, which tended to lump all adolescents together, he added. “The teen years are not like a continuous period of life development – they bring about rapid changes,” he said.
Research shows that during early adolescence, heavy use of social media predicts lower life satisfaction ratings a year later. For girls, this sensitive period is between 11 and 13 years old, while for boys it is 14 and 15. Dr. Orben suggested that this gender difference could simply be due to the babies. Girls tend to go through puberty earlier than boys.
“We know that teenage girls go through a lot of development earlier than boys,” says Dr Orben. “There are many things that could be potential drivers, whether they be social, cognitive or biological.”
Both men and women in the study went through a second phase of social media sensitivity around the age of 19. “That was quite surprising because it was so consistent across genders,” Dr. Orben said. At that age, she says, many people experience major social upheavals — like starting college, getting a new job or living independently for the first time — that can change the way they interact with others. social media, she said.