Does the internet make us happier? A research synthesis using an online findings archive

Ruut Veenhoven & Rijn Vogelaar
EHERO working paper 2019-2
Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization: EHERO Erasmus University Rotterdam, POB 1738, 300DR Rotterdam, Netherlands Homepage: E-mail:

The Issue: The internet already has a strong influence on our professional and private lives and the importance of the internet and information technology in general will grow further in the years to come. Though welcomed by some, this development is deplored by others and a discourse on the treads in internet has developed. Which view is the most realistic?
Research questions: The internet involves positive and negative effects, the balance of which will reflect in happiness. Hence the issue can be clarified by considering the relationship between the internet and happiness. Is it a positive relationship, a negative one or do these effects balance? Under what circumstances does the internet add to happiness and when should we avoid staring at a screen? For what purposes is the use of internet most beneficial? Are certain people more vulnerable for the negative effects of using the internet?
Method: We considered the results published in 34 research reports on the relation between internet and happiness, which together yielded 117 findings. We reviewed these findings, using a new technique. The findings were entered in an online ‘findings archive’, the World Database of Happiness, and each described in a standardized format on a separate ‘findings page’ with a unique internet address. In this paper, we use links to these finding pages and this allows us to summarize the main trends in the findings in a few tabular schemes.
Results: The relationship between internet and happiness differs across aspects of internet usage and different age groups. Access to internet relates positively to happiness, but time spend on internet often relates negatively. Young people, (adolescents and young adults) tend to be less happy the more they use the internet, while seniors (65+) profit from having internet access.

Keywords: happiness, internet, information technology, research synthesis.

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