- Home >
The Association Between Different Digital Use and Young Adults' Well-being
Yijun Chen, Xiaochu Zhang, Rei Akaishi
Digital technology, particularly smartphones, has become an integral part of modern life, raising concerns about its impact on well-being, especially among young people. Previous studies have yielded inconsistent results, possibly due to a lack of differentiation between different types of digital use and an overemphasis on the connection between smartphone use and well-being while neglecting confounding variables such as face-to-face communication time. In this pre-registered study, we employed the experience sampling method (ESM) to track the daily activities of 418 individuals over 21 days and analyzed the data using multilevel models and psychometric network models. Our study specifically examined the effects of different communication targets (one-to-one vs. one-to-many) and communication modes (online vs. offline). The findings revealed that digital use has only a small direct effect on well-being, with negative impact of one-to-many online communication (e.g., viewing Twitter or Instagram). Increased digital use was found to reduce offline communication time, indirectly influencing well-being to a large degree. Overall, this study has the potential to reconcile the inconsistent findings regarding the effects of digital technology on well-being with indirect effects through reduction of offline communication time. The negative impact of one-to-many online communication, which constitutes a significant portion of digital use time, warrants further attention.