The effects of social media use on teenage life satisfaction are limited and probably “tiny”, a study of 12,000 UK adolescents suggests.
Family, friends and school life all had a greater impact on wellbeing, says the University of Oxford research team.
It claims its study is more in-depth and robust than previous ones.
And it urged companies to release data on how people use social media in order to understand more about the impact of technology on young people’s lives.
The study, published in the journal PNAS, attempts to answer the question of whether teenagers who use social media more than average have lower life satisfaction, or whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social media.
Past research on the relationship between screens, technology, and children’s mental health has often been contradictory.
Prof Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben, from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, say it is often based on limited evidence which does not give the full picture.
Their study concluded that most links between life satisfaction and social media use were “trivial”, accounting for less than 1% of a teenager’s wellbeing – and that the effect of social media was “not a one-way street”.
Prof Przybylski, director of research at the institute, said: “99.75% of a person’s life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media.”