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Does reading an e-book make us happier than playing a video game? The answer is complicated.


Media consumption spiked through the pandemic. E-book gross sales had been up. Audiobook downloads rose 16 % in 2020 in comparison with 2019. Streaming—each for video games and content material on tv—in addition to individuals’s normal presence on-line elevated. As extra of our lives migrated on-line, digital know-how supplied a panacea for some, permitting them to join with family and friends, whereas on the identical time it overloaded others

Scientists questioned how this alteration in media use impacts well-being. Niklas Johannes, a postdoctoral researcher on the Oxford Internet Institute, and his colleagues, had been inquisitive about whether or not totally different types of conventional media, which they thought-about to be music, TV, movies, video video games, e-books, digital magazines, and audiobooks had pronounced impacts on well-being and life satisfaction. 

More particularly, the ensuing research that his group revealed in Scientific Reports final week aimed to look at how individuals felt after consuming varied types of conventional media. They concluded that the optimistic advantages of ingesting conventional media was “too small to matter practically,” and that “the broad, net effect of traditional media is similar to that of social media.” 

Although the research was comparatively small, the results they did see had been fairly uniform throughout the various kinds of conventional media. “The effect of playing video games wasn’t really that different from the effect of reading books,” Johannes says. (They measured averages, which may low cost the nuances that exist between totally different books and the way they make us really feel—we’ve all learn books that we actually preferred and books that we are able to’t stand.)

The knowledge they used drew from a survey of two,157 contributors within the United Kingdom 16 and older that was carried out in April and May 2020 through the first lockdown. The survey requested contributors “how much did you use those different types of media over the past week” and “how have you felt recently?” 

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This was achieved six instances over six weeks. And over this time interval, they in contrast how various kinds of conventional media affected self-reported short-term happiness or anxiousness ranges, and long-term perceptions about total life satisfaction. 

Those who reported participating with music, TV, movies, and video video games appeared to really feel barely worse within the short-term than those that didn’t. But, Johannes notes that these are associations, so that they don’t present the route of the impact. It’s a traditional case of correlation versus causation: It could possibly be that listening to music makes you’re feeling worse, or it could possibly be that while you really feel dangerous, you need to hearken to music to select your self up. 

In the short-term, individuals who used some type of media reported feeling ever so barely extra anxious and sad in comparison with those that didn’t use any media within the research interval. But when it got here to evaluating how they felt concerning the high quality of their lives usually, media and non-media customers reported related ranges of life satisfaction.

As a takeaway, Johannes says that this view that conventional media are higher for us than one thing like social media is de facto not warranted. “Our findings and measures are relatively coarse,” he says, “but if [the more traditional media] were truly so great for us, then you would be able to pick something up. And we weren’t able to pick anything up other than super tiny effects.” 

The subsequent step for the group could be to have a look at what individuals truly do and why they do it. To research media consumption habits granularly (what individuals had been truly studying, listening to, watching, taking part in, at what time of the info) would require higher, extra correct knowledge.

“There’s quite a lot of error in measuring [self-reported data],” says Johannes. “If you compare it to a log from your phone that measured podcasts, those would be kinda different.”

The tougher half additional down the road could be combining these detailed accounts with the motivations that folks might have when deciding to learn a ebook or watch a present. “It might be a vastly different effect if you enjoy hate-watching something,” says Johannes, which he describes as a movie that folks say they dislike, but additionally makes them really feel good. “That’s something that wouldn’t show up in a data analysis.”




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