Avid Facebook users likely to be healthier, live longer – study

© Dado Ruvic
Being active on Facebook and other social media websites may not only be associated with having too much free time, but also with living longer, a new study that involved 12 million people suggests.

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Maintaining friendships and contacting other people in real life have long been acknowledged as a way to improve health and increase longevity, however, now it turns out that similar behavior on social networks may have that perk too, the paper, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said.

Online activity is only a part of the positive effect of social interactions, the study stresses. Focusing exclusively on chatting on Facebook will not lead to a healthy and long life – it has to be “moderate.

“We find that Facebook users who accept more friendships have a lower risk of mortality... Mortality risk is lowest for those with high levels of offline social interaction and moderate levels of online social interaction.”

Around 12 million social media profiles available to the researchers and records from the California Department of Health were used during the research.

“Both comparisons between users and nonusers and between low users and high users suggest that social media use is predictive of lower mortality.”

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Only already existing relationships on Facebook were found to be beneficial which means hundreds of likes and shares from strangers only temporarily brighten up the mood, but are worthless in the long run.

The study was led by William Hobbs and James Fowler who worked in cooperation with teams at Facebook and Yale.

Some speculated that the study could be biased as Hobbs used to be a research intern at Facebook in 2013. Another scientist involved in the research, Moira Burke, is also a research scientist at Facebook.

“We had some things in writing that they couldn’t interfere with the publication of the research no matter what the result was,” Hobb said in response to the speculation, the New York Times reported.

The project received reviews from UC San Diego’s Institutional Review Board, California’s Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, and the Vital Statistics Advisory Committee at the California Department of Public Health.

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