Facebook and Instagram don't wreck kids' lives, claims new study

So many researchers have claimed that social media is ruining children's lives. Researchers from the University of Oxford differ.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on

Have you stopped believing the children are our future?

Do you instead spend your days worried about what Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the rest are doing to children's brains, just as some former Facebook executives now worry?

Many studies have painted very dark images of how young people's brains and emotions are being diced and mashed by these viciously addictive social media apps.

However, new work emerging from the University of Oxford offers a very different view.

The researchers' skepticism was based on the Grand Theory of Chicken and Egg.

As one of the lead researchers, Amy Orben explained: "The previous literature was based almost entirely on correlations with no means to dissociate whether social media use leads to changes in life satisfaction or changes in life satisfaction influence social media use."

Quite. Does social media make kids -- or anyone else, for that matter -- miserable? Or do miserable people turn to social media in search of, well, something?

These researchers spoke to 12,000 UK teens and concluded that the effect of social media on their life satisfaction was tiny.

Indeed, as another of the lead researchers, Professor Andrew Przybylski told the BBC: "99.75 percent of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media."

Nothing has really changed, he said. Family, friends and school life are still the dominating factors in teen happiness.

Moreover, Przybylski took the time to completely contradict Apple CEO and his pained worries about screen time.

Przybylski put it quite baldly: "Parents shouldn't worry about time on social media. Thinking about it that way is wrong." For perfect measure, he added: "We need to retire this notion of screen time."

What a relief. All those kids with their noses permanently parked in the phones are as perfectly happy as any other kids. Who also have their noses permanently parked in their phones.

Now Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest can feel entirely free to increase marketing to kids, secure in the knowledge that the kids are alright.

Other corporations -- Juul, for example -- can feel a new leap of joy in their marketing departments.

Teachers can feel blissfully relieved that their kids' social media use isn't creating a vast generation of miserable zombies, ready to haunt the Earth.

Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and friends finally have at least one concern removed from their minds.

Now they can give their undivided attention to preventing the complete ruination of world democracy.

After all, it's always the adults who really need help, isn't it?

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