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The internet is good for you, finds Oxford study

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Published Time: 13.05.2024 - 08:40:12 Modified Time: 13.05.2024 - 08:40:12

Amid panic over AI, we will look back to the good old days of seeing real people on the other side of a screen, says expert The internet is actually good for you, a study by the University of Oxford has suggested

Amid panic over AI, we will look back to the good old days of seeing real people on the other side of a screen, says expert

The internet is actually good for you, a study by the University of Oxford has suggested.

Experts analysed more than 2.4 million people from 168 countries in the largest study of its kind and found the effect of the internet on the world’s population was overwhelmingly positive.

The researchers said the findings went against popular opinion that it had been a negative force in society.

While the research did not break down the type of internet use, such as social media, it found that the level of life satisfaction was 8.5 per cent higher among those who had regular internet access across all countries.

The survey used more than 33,000 statistical models to ensure that it accounted for factors like deprivation, education and health.

It utilised survey results for people aged 15 to 99 across areas such as social, physical and community wellbeing, daily positive and negative experiences, and life satisfaction.

The researchers found that 85 per cent of the associations between the internet and wellbeing were positive, while 0.4 per cent were negative. The rest were neutral.

The group most likely to have unfavourable experiences were women aged 15-24, particularly in relation to their sense of community wellbeing, which suggests it was having a negative effect on how they felt about where they lived.

‘Silly debate’

Professor Andrew Przybylski, human behaviour and technology expert at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: “It’s a bit cliché, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

“If we’re to make the online world safer for young people, we just can’t go in guns blazing with strong prior beliefs and one-size-fits-all solutions,” he said.

“We really need to make sure that we’re sensitive to having our minds changed by data, and I really hope that that message comes through instead of just another volley, in another silly debate.”

It comes after Ofcom, the media regulator, last week announced proposals to name and shame social media sites who fail to comply with new rules due to come into force next year under the Online Safety Act – and ban under-18s from using them.

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