Even though there are some people out there who think that using online social networks is having a negative effect on the majority of the population, science seems to hold a different opinion. According to a new study, individuals who receive and accept a lot of friend requests on Facebook seem to live longer compared to people who don’t receive such requests.
The new research looked at the mortality rates and Facebook activity of individuals who were registered California voters. The team of scientists found out that receiving numerous friend requests on the popular social media platform, Facebook, made individuals less likely to die over the period of two years when compared to ones who didn’t receive requests. However, sending friend requests didn’t have any effect on the rate of deaths.
The findings from the current study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The results seem to provide some hints regarding the link present between a person’s health and the social networks they keep, whether they happened to be in person or online.
James Fowler, the senior author of the current study, has been focusing on the relationship between social networks and a person’s well-being for a lot of years. He even observed how these off-line social networks could give rise to obesity or even happiness. Wondering if online social networks could also have a link to health is what urged him and his colleagues to pursue the current research.
According to the lead author of the paper, William Hobbs, they wanted to know if the link between humans and social networks was also present in their online interactions. Many people believe that online interactions take away from the positive effects one might get to experience through face-to-face social interactions. The researchers wanted to see if there was any scientific proof behind such an assumption and if the use of Facebook was chipping away at the health of an individual. However, once the research was complete, the results showed that using Facebook actually had a positive effect on human beings.
For the purpose of this study, a total of 12 million users of Facebook were taken as a sample by the team of researchers. They were then matched to the vital records held by the California Department of Public Health and the database of voter registration. All of the data was anonymous. The scientists looked at the number of people who had died during the two years that passed until the follow-up. All of the people taken into consideration for this study were born between the year 1945 and 1989. The comparisons that were made during research were between people belonging to the same gender and age.
The results showed that no correlation was present when it came to the number of friend requests that were sent by people and how long they lived. However, there was quite an obvious relationship between a person’s longevity and the amount of friend requests he or she received. Individuals who received as well as accepted friend requests showed a 34% less likelihood of dying during the period of the study when compared to those who got and accepted the lowest amount of friend requests.
Posting images of real face-to-face interactions also had a positive link with higher health. Complications were seen when it came to writing on the Facebook wall in moderation (linked to lower mortality rate), and writing too much, less frequently or not at all.
The researchers note that the current research only shows a correlation between Facebook use and how long a person lives and their overall health. More research is required in order to find a concrete answer. However, the results do prove that using social media might not have the negative effects that a lot of people dread.