New study reexamines the internet's impact on mental health: The results will surprise you

Photo: Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

The results of research conducted in recent years have shown the impact of constant "surfing" on the Internet and "scrolling" on mobile devices, on mental health, and many studies have shown that social media, such as Instagram and Tiktok, can harm users, especially those in their teenage years.

But one of the most comprehensive studio on Mental Health and Internet Use, by the Internet Institute in Oxford, shows that there is actually no hard evidence linking the Internet to a negative impact on the human psyche.

Research conducted at the University of Oxford indicates that there is not much truth in the information about the connection between intensive surfing and poor mental health, that is, there is nothing to confirm it.

A British study found that "the association between Internet use and psychological well-being is, at worst, weak."

"We've made a huge effort to find out what connects technology and individual well-being, but we haven't been able to find the connection," said Andrew Przybylski, a professor at Oxford.

Przybylski explained that he and fellow scientists tested in detail the possibility that the Internet affects different ages and genders and found that "there is no evidence to support popular theories that certain age groups are more at risk."

Scientists from the Institute studied data collected over nearly twenty years, covering internet users aged 15 to 89 from 168 countries.

The authors of the study also studied previously conducted research. They found that the numerous studies linking Internet technology to the negative impact on users' mental health were ambiguous and open to different interpretations.

"We looked at and studied a large amount of data on individual well-being and Internet use, both over time and across population demographics," said Matti Vuore, assistant professor at Tilburg University and research fellow at the Oxford Institute.

Wuore and colleagues warned that tech companies will need to provide insight into more data, rather than keeping most of it to themselves, if they are to finally influence "popular assumptions about the negative psychological effects of online technologies and platforms" to finally be rejected.

They acknowledge that the results of their study are incomplete only because the researchers were not given access to the data on the platforms themselves.

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