Longitudinal associations between social website use and happiness in young people

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 23, 2015


Cross-sectional analysis of Understanding Society indicates that use
of social media increases with age while happiness decreases. The
temporal relationship between media use and happiness is not established
and the current literature is mainly based on cross-sectional analysis.
Using the first four waves of Understanding Society (youth
self-completion questionnaire) we examine changes in social website use
as well as happiness and how they are related to each other over time.
The Understanding Society youth self-completion questionnaire is given
annually to young people aged 10-15. Questions about daily frequency of
chatting on social websites and happiness with six domains of life are
used. We use a two-part latent growth curve model with random slopes and
time-varying covariates. We control for parental education, partnership
status and ethnicity, and for youths the number of friends
participation in sports and gender.
Findings suggest a significant association between the intercept of
chatting on social websites and the slope of happiness. Similarly, the
happiness intercept significantly predicted the chatting on social
websites slope. There was some attenuation with inclusion of control
variables. Chatting on social media websites and happiness levels change
over time in young people and the rates of change are associated with
the initial levels of use and happiness. These findings add to the
debate on causality and may inform future policy and interventions.






Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest