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Social media has limited impact on teens: study

The effects of social media on the life satisfaction of teenagers are
The effects of social media on the life satisfaction of teenagers are "trivial" in size, a new study suggests. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Sally Wardle

The effects of social media on the life satisfaction of teenagers are "trivial" in size, a new study suggests.

Spending more time on sites such as Facebook has a limited impact on how content adolescents are with their lives, according to the research published in journal PNAS.

Professor Andrew Przybylski, from the University of Oxford, said the findings suggest society should "retire the screen time notion", and instead focus on whether particular aspects of online behaviour are harmful.

"Applying transparent and innovative statistical approaches, we show that social media effects are not a one-way street; they are nuanced, reciprocal, possibly contingent on gender, and arguably trivial in size," the authors wrote.

The new study analysed data on 12,000 British teenagers, taken from an eight-year survey of UK households.

Lower life satisfaction led to an increase in social media use and social media use led to lower life satisfaction, but the trends were only "modest", the authors said.

These effects were more evident in females than males.

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