Internet Use and Subjective Well-Being in China

Peng Nie, Alfonso Sousa-Poza, Galit Nimrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Using data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies, we analyze the association between Internet use and various measures of subjective well-being (SWB) in a sample of 16- to 60-year-old Chinese. Our analysis shows that although intensive Internet use is significantly associated with lower levels of SWB, we hardly observe any associations when the focus is on participation in specific online activities. Nevertheless, SWB depends on the reasons for using the Internet and the extent to which individuals feel that their Internet use is displacing other activities. Our results suggest that, contrary to previous findings, differences in beneficial outcomes (the third level digital divide) do not necessarily arise from individuals’ actual Internet use (the second level digital divide) but rather may result from their subjective perceptions of such usage. Our findings also point to a possible cultural factor that puts Chinese Internet users at psychological risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-516
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2017


  • China
  • Depression
  • Digital divides
  • Happiness
  • Internet use
  • Life satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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