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Study finds no evidence linking Meta use & psychological harm

Study finds no evidence linking Meta use & psychological harm. Image Source: IANS News

London, Aug 13 : Use of social media platform Meta (formerly known as Facebook) is not linked to psychological harm, according to the study of nearly a million people across 72 countries over 12 years.

Despite popular claims about the impact of social media on well-being, the researchers from the Oxford University in the UK found “no evidence” that Facebook use was consistently linked negatively to well-being, rather they found quite the opposite.

“Although reports of negative psychological outcomes associated with social media are common in academic and popular writing, evidence for harms is, on balance, more speculative than conclusive,” they wrote in the research paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“We examined the best available data carefully — and found they did not support the idea that Facebook membership is related to harm, quite the opposite. In fact, our analysis indicates Facebook is possibly related to positive well-being,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski from Oxford Internet Institute.

While the team did not find evidence to support popular misconceptions about Facebook, “this is not to say this is evidence that Facebook is good for the well-being of users”, Przybylski said.

“Rather, the best global data does not support the idea that the expansion of social media has a negative global association with well-being across nations and different demographics.”

In the study, the team linked data tracking Facebook’s global adoption with three indicators of well-being: life satisfaction, negative and positive psychological experiences.

They examined 72 countries’ per capita active Facebook users in males and females in two age brackets (13-34years and 35+years).

They found no evidence for negative associations and in many cases, there were positive correlations between Facebook and well-being indicators.

The researchers also investigated differences relating to age and gender. Their analysis showed that the association between Facebook adoption and well-being was slightly more positive for males than females, across all well-being measures but these trends were not significant.

Furthermore, Facebook adoption and well-being was generally more positive for younger individuals across countries. These effects were small but significant.

“Our findings should help guide the debate surrounding social media towards more empirical research foundations. We need more transparent collaborative research between independent scientists and the technology industry to better determine how, when and why modern online platforms might be affecting their users,” said Professor Matti Vuorre, from the Oxford Internet Institute.

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