The Impact of Internet and Social Media Use on Well-Being: A Longitudinal Analysis of Adolescents Across Nine Years
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The present research examines the longitudinal average impact of frequency of use of Internet and social networking sites (SNS) on subjective well-being of adolescents in Germany. Based on five-wave panel data that cover a period of nine years, we disentangle between-person and within-person effects of media use on depressive symptomatology and life satisfaction as indicators of subjective well-being. Additionally, we control for confounders such as TV use, self-esteem, and satisfaction with friends. We found that frequency of Internet use in general and use of SNS in particular is not substantially related subjective well-being. The explanatory power of general Internet use or SNS use to predict between-person differences or within-person change in subjective well-being is close to zero. TV use, a potentially confounding variable, is negatively related to satisfaction with life, but it does not affect depressive symptomatology. However, this effect is too small to be of practical relevance.