Internet Access and Use Linked to Greater Wellbeing, Study Finds

Internet Access and Use Linked to Greater Wellbeing, Study Finds
Study finds that internet access and active use are linked to increased life satisfaction and wellbeing, with benefits across various demographics.

A recent study has shown a significant link between internet access and improved wellbeing, indicating that being connected online can have numerous positive effects on various aspects of life. The research, conducted across different demographic groups and regions, highlights the complex relationship between internet use and overall life satisfaction.

Key Findings of the Study

The study found that active internet users reported increases in life satisfaction, positive experiences, and social and physical wellbeing. These individuals experienced a 0.03 to 0.08 unit increase in these areas compared to non-users. Conversely, negative experiences decreased by 0.04 units for active internet users​​.

Importantly, the study indicated that the socioeconomic status of internet users did not significantly influence the positive outcomes. This suggests that the benefits of internet access are widespread and not confined to any particular social or economic group. However, the study did note that internet access and usage were particularly beneficial in deprived communities, where it helped combat issues such as social isolation and worklessness by providing access to educational and community participation opportunities​​.

Impacts on Different Age Groups

While the overall impact of internet use was positive, the study highlighted some nuances based on age groups. Among young adults (15-24 years old), particularly women, internet use was associated with lower community wellbeing. This age group reported feeling less satisfied with their living conditions and community safety, suggesting that excessive internet use might sometimes detract from local social engagement​​.

The Role of Online Communication

The type of internet use also played a significant role in determining its impact on wellbeing. The study differentiated between various online activities, finding that internet use for communication purposes, especially with close ties such as friends and family, was associated with decreased depression and increased social support. In contrast, communicating with weaker ties or strangers online was linked to higher levels of depression​​.

Barriers to Internet Access

Despite the positive findings, the study also acknowledged the barriers that prevent people from accessing the internet. Affordability remains a significant challenge, especially in developing regions where the cost of internet-enabled devices and data can be prohibitively high. For example, in countries like South Sudan and Zimbabwe, the cost of mobile data exceeds 10% of the average monthly income, making it difficult for many to stay connected​​.

Moreover, a lack of digital skills and perceived need for the internet are additional barriers. Many people, particularly in rural areas and among older adults, do not see the relevance of the internet or lack the skills to use it effectively. This digital divide highlights the need for targeted interventions to improve digital literacy and make internet access more affordable​​.

The study provides robust evidence that internet access and active use are linked to greater wellbeing, particularly through enhanced social connections and access to information. However, it also underscores the importance of addressing the digital divide to ensure that these benefits are accessible to all. As internet penetration continues to grow globally, policymakers must focus on making internet access more inclusive and affordable, while also promoting digital literacy to maximize its positive impacts on society.

Tags

About the author

Avatar photo

Shweta Bansal

Shweta, a tech journalist from New Delhi, specializes in AI and IOT. Her insightful articles, featured in leading tech publications, blend complex tech trends with engaging narratives, emphasizing the role of women in tech.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment