Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Does body image and family support mediate the relationship between changes in technology use and well-being?

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Day:Tue 2 Jul
  • Cara Booker, University of Essex

The objective of this paper is to explore the potential mechanisms of the relationship between technology use and subjective well-being.  Using data from Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), we will use parallel-process latent growth curve modelling to test how changes in technology use between the ages of 10 and 15 are related to changes in well-being and whether that relationship is mediated by changes in either perceptions of body image or familial support. We will explore potential gender differences by running separate models for boys and girls. Technology used was assessed through use of computer and console games and social media interaction. Well-being was assessed in two ways: happiness and socio-emotional difficulties. Youth were also asked about their perceptions of their body and the support they receive from their family. The presentation will discuss how social media use and different measures of well-being change as these young people age. We will then examine how these changes are related to each other across time. Finally we will introduce changes of perceptions of body image or familial social support as potential mediators. Technology use is an important part of young people’s lives and the links with well-being are controversial and tenuous. Use of longitudinal data is important in further exploring the direction and size and to better understand the potential mediators of this relationship. Only then can we create effective policies and messages that can be used to highlight both positive and negative effects of technology.