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Is the Internet bad? New study suggests positive effect of online life on well-being

The negative effects of excessive use of social networks on health have already been studied and debated by doctors and researchers around the world. However, a new study carried out with more than 2.4 million people, followed for 16 years, shows that the Internet use can increase well-being satisfaction with life and a sense of purpose.

A search was published this Monday (13), in the scientific journal Technology, Mind and Behavior. In it, the authors sought to capture a more global image of the effects of the internet. “If social media, the use of the internet and cell phones are really such a devastating force in our society, we should see it in this panoramic view [estudo] – but we don’t”, argues psychologist Markus Appel, from the university of Würzburg, in Germany, in article published in Nature.

The researcher explains that the negative effects of the internet are usually related to behavior on social networks, such as cyberbullying, addiction to social networks and self-image problems. Furthermore, in the view of Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, studies carried out using the internet until then were not global and were limited to English-speaking countries, in addition to focusing on the young population.

Therefore, the researchers decided to do a larger, global study on the effects of the internet on well-being. To do this, the authors analyzed data on how internet access was related to eight measures of well-being from the Gallup World Poll, a survey conducted by the analysis company Gallup, based in Washington, in the United States.

Data were collected annually between 2006 and 2021, in 168 countries, through telephone or in-person interviews. The researchers controlled for factors that could influence the results, such as income level, employment status, education level and health problems.

The study found that, on average, people who had access to the internet had higher scores 8% higher life satisfaction , positive experiences and contentment with their social life, compared to those who did not have access to the internet. In the researchers' view, online activities can help people learn new things and make friends, which can contribute to well-being.

On the other hand, women aged 15 to 24 who reported having used the internet in the last week (in relation to when they responded to the survey) were, on average, less satisfied with where they lived, compared to people who did not. used the internet. This may be related to the fact that people who don't feel welcome in their community spend more time online, according to Przybylski.

Despite the results, more studies are needed to confirm and strengthen whether the links between internet use actually exist or whether they are merely associations.

Source: CNN Brasil

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