A large new study has concluded that the social media effect is 'tiny' in teenagers
Good news for worried teen (and tween) parents.
According to the BBC, a study of 12,000 UK adolescents suggests that the effects of social media use on teenage life satisfaction are limited and probably "tiny."
The study, published in the journal PNAS, attempts to answer the question of whether teenagers who use social media more than average have lower life satisfaction, or whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social media.
Past research on the relationship between screens, technology and children's mental health has often been contradictory, but the University of Oxford research team claim its study is more in-depth and robust than previous ones, giving some mental reassurance to parents who have worried over their childrens' use of social media.
In fact, according to the large-scale study, family, friends and school life all had a greater impact on wellbeing among young people, the researchers could reveal.
"Parents shouldn't worry about time on social media - thinking about it that way is wrong," Prof Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, said.
"We are fixated on time - but we need to retire this notion of screen time. The results are not showing evidence for great concern."
In fact, the professor said: "99.75% of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media."
Prof Przybylski and Amy Orben, also from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, say it is often based on limited evidence which does not give the full picture.
And their study concluded that most links between life satisfaction and social media use were "trivial", accounting for less than 1% of a teenager's wellbeing - and that the effect of social media was "not a one-way street".
The study, which took place between 2009 and 2017, asked thousands of 10 to 15-year-olds to say how long they spent using social media on a normal school day and also rate how satisfied they were with different aspects of life.
They found more effects of time spent on social media in girls, but they were tiny and no larger than effects found in boys. And less than half of these effects were statistically significant, the pair said.
The researchers said it was now important to identify young people at greater risk from certain effects of social media, and find out other factors that were having an impact on their wellbeing.
They plan to meet social media companies soon to discuss how they can work together to learn more about how people use apps - not just the time spent on them.