Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A longitudinal study of the effects of internet use on subjective well-being

A longitudinal study of the effects of internet use on subjective well-being Thumbnail


This study examined how internet use is related to subjective well-being, using longitudinal data from 19 nations with representative online samples stratified for age, gender, and region (N = 7122, 51.43% women, Mage = 45.26). Life satisfaction and anxiety served as indices of subjective well-being at time 1 (t1) and then six months later (t2). Frequency of internet use (hours online per day) at t1 correlated with lower life satisfaction, r = - .06, and more anxiety, r = .13 at t2. However, after imposing multivariate controls, frequency of internet use (t1) was no longer associated with lower subjective well-being (t2). Frequency of social contact by internet and use of internet for following rumors (t1) predicted higher anxiety (t2). Higher levels of direct (face-to-face plus phone) social contact (t1) predicted greater life satisfaction (t2). In multivariate analyses, all effect sizes were small. Society-level individualismcollectivism or indulgence-restraint did not show a direct effect on outcomes nor moderate individual-level associations. Results are discussed in the framework of the internet as a displacement of social contact versus a replacement of deficits in direct contact; and as a source of positive and negative information.

Acceptance Date May 23, 2019
Publication Date Aug 22, 2019
Journal Media Psychology
Print ISSN 1521-3269
Publisher Routledge
Keywords subjective well-being; life satisfaction; anxiety; internet use
Publisher URL


Downloadable Citations