Since a long time, we have been hearing that extensive use of social media has an adverse impact on our mental health. But now if we tell you that Facebook can play a major role in increasing your lifespan, will you believe us? According to a study by University of California San Diego researchers, “Using Facebook is associated with living longer – when it serves to maintain and enhance your real-world social ties.”
In order to conduct this study, researchers analyzed accounts of 12 million Facebook users over six months. They compared the activity of those still living to those who had died. All of those studied were born between 1945 and 1989, and all the comparisons were made between people of similar age and gender. The researchers then confirmed that those people who have stronger social networks live longer. And it documents for the first time that what happens online may matter also.
“Interacting online seems to be healthy when the online activity is moderate and complements interactions offline. It is only on the extreme end, spending a lot of time online with little evidence of being connected to people otherwise, that we see a negative association,” said first author William Hobbs, who worked on the study as a UC San Diego doctoral student in political science and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University.
According to senior author James Fowler, professor of political science in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences and of global public health in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, said, “Happily, for almost all Facebook users, what we found is balanced use and a lower risk of mortality.”
It was discovered that having more Facebook friends, especially being the recipient of those friend requests, decreases mortality risk owing to cardiovascular disease (CVD), drug overdose, and causes of death known to be associated with social isolation.
Surprisingly, it was found that posting many photos and relatively few status updates is associated with increased longevity, while posting a lot of status updates, without a corresponding increase in photos, is associated with increased mortality.
The research further revealed that those Facebook users who posted more photos of face-to-face social activity, have the greatest longevity. Even users who accept more Facebook friendships live longer but initiating friendships is not associated with significant differences in longevity.
This research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).