What impact is the digital world having on our wellbeing? Is the Internet connecting us or leading to social isolation? MRS kicks off its Speaker Evenings in 2020 with Jennifer Roberton, Managing Director of respondi and Matt Browne, CEO of Global Progress, revealing the results of a study that has analysed happiness indexes alongside actual online behaviour to help provide answers in the wider debate about Internet use.

The Internet has been hailed as a revolutionary tool for bringing people together, sharing knowledge and engaging audiences. But it is also criticised for being addictive, increasing social isolation and helping to spread hate. Reports have even emerged of employees at Silicon Valley tech giants sending their children to schools that ban Internet-connected devices. So are connected technologies beneficial to us overall, or are they actually detrimental to our wellbeing?

Over the past decade, measuring and tracking population happiness has become increasingly important to country leaders. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics runs an annual survey to evaluate the personal wellbeing of people in Britain. The World Happiness Report, supported by the UN, uses similar questions to track happiness and wellbeing around the world. What these surveys don’t include, however, is in-depth analysis about the impact of the digital world on our wellbeing.

What you’ll learn:

  • The interrelation between Internet usage and happiness
  • The happy and unhappy zones of the Internet: mapping it according to the happiness score of the audience
  • How Internet use within certain parts of the population relates to issues like Internet addiction, social media consumption and fake news
  • An informed view in the debate about regulation of the Internet
  • The importance of education about Internet use
  • The benefits of combining passive and declarative data

Our MRS’ Speaker Evenings resume in 2020 with the findings of a study across France, Germany and the UK to cross analyse the results of happiness indexes with online behaviour. The research combined a traditional online survey – which matched the wording of official wellbeing surveys – with passive tracking data (i.e. web and app behaviour tracked across participants’ phones, tablets and PC/laptops). As the findings show, obtaining real behavioural data is vital because, when it comes to Internet use, declarative data can be biased or inaccurate. Even if we think we’re ready to face the truth, it’s hard to estimate how much time we really spend online every day.

About the speakers:

For over 15 years Jennifer Roberton, Managing Director of respondi, has been at the forefront of online research in the UK, Europe and beyond. She has been instrumental in shifting analytical models from those based on self-reporting of consumer behaviour to the fusion of data from a broad variety of sources, including integration of consumers’ passive online behaviour.

Under Jennifer’s leadership, respondi received the MRS Best Data Collection (online) Award for a pioneering study of attitudes among refugees in 12 countries, illustrating that her approach not only benefits commercial clients but can be used to better understand and tackle complex issues of importance to society as a whole.

Matt Browne is founder of Global Progress, a network of progressive leaders, thinkers and foundations, as well as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-director of the Berggruen Institute Renovating Democracy Initiative. Previously, he served as the executive director of Policy Network, the international think-tank founded by Tony Blair, Gerhard Schro?der, Goran Persson and Giuliano Amato, and remains a member of the organisation’s governing board and advisory council.

Matt also serves on the board of Canada 2020, Volta Italia, Progressive Centre UK and Open Goal, among other progressive foundations. Over the past two decades, he has advised over 30 leaders, prime ministers and presidents across five continents.


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90 Central St,London,EC1V 8AJ


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