Does Internet Access Make You Happier?

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Since Internet use became widespread, the media has produced countless articles saying too many people use the Internet for too much time. These reports chronicle how the Internet plagues people, causing addictions to porn, gambling, and other unsavory vices. But a new study from the British organization Chartered Institute of IT, known as BCS -- anyone know how you get BCS from Chartered Institute of IT? -- finds that people with Internet access are happier than those without it.

BCS partnered with the Trajectory Partnership to evaluate data from 35,000 people worldwide who answered the World Values Study (2005-2007). The researchers, led by Michael Willmott, examined several aspects that contribute to happiness such as gender, age, income, and education. Regardless of these factors, they found that people with Internet access were happier than those without it. Even significantly poor people experienced increased levels of joy if they had Internet access. Willmott says that people with Internet access are happier because the web empowers people.

Contentment remained consistent across age groups—children and adolescents weren't the only groups who enjoy surfing the web. However, the survey uncovered a surprising nugget—the Internet provides more joy to women than men, and it bestows more happiness to women living in the developing world.

The study didn't explain why the Internet makes people feel happy (we have a few thoughts: mentalfloss.com, cute cats, Betty White campaigns on Facebook, minisodes of True Blood), but they surmise that women are happier with the Internet than without because it allows them to easily connect with friends and family. The researchers also suspect that some women use the Internet as a tool to help them run the household more efficiently.

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May 27, 2010 - 6:05am
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