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Research finds no link between Facebook and psychological harm

Facebook is an online social media app created in 2004. Photo: Archive/Radio Nigeria

A recent study by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) says there is no evidence that the global use of Facebook is linked to widespread psychological harm.

The research which looked at Facebook only and not other Meta platforms said the global widespread of the app in 72 countries countered the belief that social media is psychologically harmful.

Several countries, including the UK are considering legislation to protect social media users from online harms.

Prof Andrew Przybylski of the institute explained that the study tried to answer the question: “As countries become more saturated with social media, how does the wellbeing of their populations look?”

“It is commonly thought that this is a bad thing for wellbeing and the data that we analysed did not show that was the case,” he said.

Previous work of the Institute also found little association between teenagers’ technology use and mental health problems.

Prof Przybylski noted the main policy lesson from the study was that researchers needed access to better data from tech firms to answer questions about the effect of social media:

Overall, the researchers said they found no evidence that increasing social media adoption was linked to a negative effect on psychological wellbeing.

Meanwhile, a professor of psychology and science communication at Bath Spa University, Peter Etchells described the study as fascinating, but said it did not say anything about cause and effect.

Writing by Omolola Ameen; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu