A report, titled "The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier", claimed the use of IT and internet connectivity has a positive impact on life satisfaction. The benefits of social networking are most pronounced in the first two years of connectivity, says the British Computer Society (BCS).
Paul Flatters from the Trajectory Partnership, which carried out the research on behalf of the Institute, said: "Social networking makes us happier. Given the immediate uplift in life satisfaction that people experience when using these sites, teaching people about how to use services like Facebook could be a more effective way of bridging the digital divide and getting people online."
Speaking to Computer Weekly, Elizabeth Sparrow, president of BCS, Chartered Institute of IT, said: "This report will generate debate between all those working on policies, rolling out broadband, reviewing education in computing and IT and the digital divide."
"Policies focus on the economic impact of IT. We wanted to make sure policy makers had a truly holistic view of IT and its social impact," she added.
The BCS has also launched a beginner's guide to social networking, including communication etiquette for e-mail and text messaging, how to use video calling and how to set privacy settings on social networking sites.