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A bit of Internet boosts your life satisfaction and wellbeing, but you can get too much of a good thing, argues a new study.
Researchers from France and Luxembourg wondered whether the Internet improves people’s lives, so they combed data from several European lifestyle surveys, eventually focusing on one country: tiny (but wealthy) Luxembourg.
Of the 1,300+ Luxemburgish (yes, that’s a real word) who took the survey, those without Internet access were 57 percent less likely to say they were satisfied with their lives than those who occasionally or frequently used the Internet. While the percentages varied slightly, those differences remained even after the researchers adjusted for health, income, and social relationships.
But here’s where things get interesting: More Internet use did not lead to more satisfaction among the Luxembourg Internet users. After adjusting for health and income factors, the researchers found that life satisfaction dropped by about 18 percent among those who used the Internet every day compared to those who were online less frequently.
Why? The researchers wouldn’t speculate, but they pointed to other studies that have linked Internet use to social isolation and addictive behaviors (we’re looking at you, online poker fiends).
The benefits of the Internet, according to study author Nicolas Poussing, Ph.D., include finding work more easily, staying connecting with friends, and saving money and time shopping for goods and services. In fact, a University of Chicago study determined that the Internet saves users roughly $3,000 annually based on time saved and deals found shopping online. But you don’t need to spend six hours a day on the Internet to experience those benefits, Poussing says.
To avoid social isolation, shoot for about an hour of daily Internet use when you’re not working. If you’re online more than 10 hours per week, you’ll start to lose connections with friends, family members, and neighbors, explains a Stanford University study. And avoid gambling or gaming online. Both are serious risk factors for Internet “addiction,” according to Chinese researchers.