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SOCIAL MEDIA USE AND CHILDREN’S WELLBEING (Emily McDool, Philip Powell, Jennifer Roberts and Karl Taylor)

Wednesday 8 November 2017, 1.00PM to 2.00pm

Speaker(s): Jennifer Roberts (Sheffield)

Host: Nigel Rice

Abstract:  Childhood circumstances and behaviours have been shown to have important persistent effects in later life. One aspect of childhood that has changed dramatically in the past decade, and is causing concern among policy makers and other bodies responsible for safeguarding children, is the advent of social media, or online social networking. This research explores the effect of children’s digital social networking on their subjective wellbeing. We use a large representative sample of 10-15 year olds over the period 2010 to 2016 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, and estimate the effect of time spent chatting on social websites on a number of outcomes which reflect how these children feel about different aspects of their life. We deal with the potential endogeneity of social networking via an instrumental variable approach using information on broadband speeds published by Ofcom; this IV strategy stands up to rigorous scrutiny. Our results suggest that spending more time on social networks reduces the satisfaction that children feel with all aspects of their lives; and that girls suffer more adverse effects than boys. As well as addressing policy makers’ concerns about the effects of digital technology on children, this work also contributes to wider debates about the socioeconomic consequences of the internet and digital technologies more generally, a debate which to date has largely been based on evidence from outside of the UK.

Location: ARRC Auditorium (A/RC014)

Admission: All welcome