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The present research examines the longitudinal average impact of frequency of use of Internet and social networking sites (SNS) on subjective well-being of adolescents in Germany. Based on five-wave panel data that cover a period of nine years, we disentangle between-person and within-person effects of media use on depressive symptomatology and life satisfaction as indicators of subjective well-being. Additionally, we control for confounders such as TV use, self-esteem, and satisfaction with friends. We found that frequency of Internet use in general and use of SNS in particular is not substantially related subjective well-being. The explanatory power of general Internet use or SNS use to predict between-person differences or within-person change in subjective well-being is close to zero. TV use, a potentially confounding variable, is negatively related to satisfaction with life, but it does not affect depressive symptomatology. However, this effect is too small to be of practical relevance.
Schemer, C., Masur, P. K., Geiß, S., Müller, P., & Schäfer, S. (2021). The Impact of Internet and Social Media Use on Well-Being: A Longitudinal Analysis of Adolescents Across Nine Years. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 26(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmaa014
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