Study Claims Internet Use Boosts Wellbeing

John Lister's picture

Internet adoption has a positive link with wellbeing, according to an international research project. But it's a mixed picture and cause and effect could be questioned.

The research comes from the Oxford Internet Institute, which examined a wide range of studies into psychological wellbeing and mental health. They covered a total of 2.4 million people across 168 countries at various points between 2006 and 2021. (Source:

The researchers then cross-referenced the results with figures on broadband and mobile Internet use in the relevant countries at the relevant times.

The biggest finding was that the higher the levels of Internet use, the greater the reported levels of satisfaction and "social wellbeing". Across the studies, the researcher found 34,000 cases (including full datasets and subsets) where wellbeing and Internet access could be compared. The positive link existed in 85 percent of cases.

Cause and Effect

That doesn't necessarily mean the Internet use caused the wellbeing, however. For example, it could mean that people who were financially stable enough to afford Internet services were more likely to be content with their life.

That could particularly be the case given the studies included many countries where Internet access was limited and expensive, particularly further back in the time period under assessment.

In 10 percent of cases there was no clear link, while in five percent of cases the link was negative. That meant increased Internet use was linked with decreased wellbeing. The researchers noted that many of these cases involved subsets of women under the age of 25.

International Perspective

Experts quoted by the BBC welcomed the principle of the research, particularly the efforts to include data from developing countries. Often such studies are underreported as they are not written in English. (Source:

However, the experts also noted that the research was limited by covering Internet use as a whole. That meant it didn't explore the theory that particular types of use such as social media might not have the positive link or could even be harmful.

What's Your Opinion?

Do the result surprise you? Do you believe Internet use is a cause of wellbeing and life satisfaction? How important is it to distinguish between different types of Internet use?

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Dennis Faas's picture

In my opinion, social media is a scourge and does more harm than good - especially when used as a propaganda tool and to brainwash people (especially the younger generation) through 'trends' and whatever the algorithm dictates what you should watch.

TikTok is extremely worrying for these reasons since it is owned by the Chinese and its app could potentially be used to jailbreak phones and turn them into 24/7 spying tools.

I personally have nothing against China, but the truth is that they have a very poor track record when it comes to mass surveillance and spying on their own citizens. The social credit system they recently introduced is a good example of how they control their own people, which is amplified through platforms like TikTok.

There are parallels with the Chinese Social Credit System and ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) which is used in North America, where the 'Social' aspect of the ESG system is DEI standards (diversity, equity and inclusion).

In other words, organizations are ranked based on a credit system. It is a well-known fact that large investment platforms like Black Rock and Vanguard use ESG scores to push their own agendas. A good example of this was seen during the recent Bud Light controversy where a trans TikTok influencer promoted bud light. This didn't go over very well with the Bud Light's conservative audience, which resulted in a $5 Billion drop in stock shortly thereafter.