How the Internet Affects Our Happiness

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

In the age of staying constantly connected to your friends via Facebook, able to look anything up on Google, and presented with an endless array of entertainment options by Netflix or Spotify, have you considered how the Internet impacts your happiness? Do you need to have access to the Internet at home to be happy? Would you be less happy if you didn’t have it? How does the speed of your connectivity affect your overall satisfaction with your life?

While these seem like odd questions to ask yourself, it’s an interesting area of inquiry. Using the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, investigated how happiness is related to Internet connectivity. Cross-referencing Gallup’s Happiness Index with U.S. census data on the percentage of a state’s residents who access the Internet from home, the analysis found that almost 40 percent of the Happiness Index score for a state can be estimated based on the state’s Internet access percentage.

Happiness vs internet access by state


As’s John Dilley notes, the analysis reveals correlation, not causation. He notes that the correlation could occur because a high rate of home Internet access signifies strong, or for other reasons that would require “more study and analysis” to clarify. “But,” Dilley notes, “we can say that although Internet access doesn’t necessarily cause happiness, the two are related.”

The analysis compared the list of the five happiest states with the list of the five most connected states. Two states — North Dakota and Minnesota — landed on both. Meanwhile, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana all ranked highly among the happiest states, but didn’t make the list of most connected states. As New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont appeared within the top five connected states, they didn’t make the list of happiest states.

5 happiest states vs 5 most connected states


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