The effects of social media on the life satisfaction of teenagers are "trivial" in size, a new study suggests.
Spending more time on sites such as Facebook has a limited impact on how happy adolescents are with their lives, according to the research published in journal PNAS.
Professor Andrew Przybylski, from the University of Oxford, said concentrating on “screen time” - the amount of time teenagers spent on social media - was unhelpful.
Professor Przybylski, who co-authored the study, told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “Every week there is a ‘monster of the week’ story where social media is part of something that is no good that has happened.
“The fact of the matter is that we don’t really know if young people turn to social media to cope with bad things happening in their lives or if there is really something about the amount of time they spend on social media that might lead to ill-health.”
The new study analysed data on 12,000 British teenagers, taken from an eight-year survey of UK households.
Lower life satisfaction led to an increase in social media use and social media use led to lower life satisfaction, but the trends were only "modest", the authors said.
Professor Przybylski suggested that parents should not worry about the amount of time their children spend on social media, adding that would be “barking up the wrong tree”.
“Young people are going through puberty, taking classes, having their first kiss; there is a lot going on for young people,” he added.
“It might be a mistake to assume that Mark Zuckerberg really has that much of an influence.”
The Oxford Professor said there was nothing “magical” about social media.
“We know a death in the family, substance use and school pressure, are the leading causes of documentable suicide,” he said.
“That is not to say we should not be looking at the impact of social media.”