Can Facebook Help You Live Longer?

It could actually be possible!

 This social media app could be more powerful that you think. By Janice Sim

Photo: Kaboompics//Karolina/

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Many love to debate the effects of social media, i.e. mediums like Facebook, grippling with the good and the bad consequences that the age of social media has caused. The good usually involves making new connections with people, social awareness, information exchange etc while the bad can instead backfire into disengagement from the real world, antisocial behaviour, anxiety, cyberbulling etc. But now science has found a game-changing benefit of Facebook, as it can in fact, help one to live longer. We thank Mark Zuckerberg in advance.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where it was based on 12 million social media profiles made available by Facebook as well as records from the California Department of Health, it was found that an average Facebook user is about 12 per cent less likely to die than someone who doesn't use the account. For years now, researchers have found that people with stronger social networks live longer, but that was only evident in the offline world. True enough, in this recent study led by University of California San Diego researchers William Hobbs and James Fowler, in collaboration with colleagues at Facebook and Yale, it was found that the size of one's social network (meaning the number of friends) was a defining variable. The study revealed that people with average or large social networks lived longer than those in the lowest 10 per cent. This finding does now, draws the same conclusion in the online world.

Facebook users who accepted the most friend requests also proved to live the longest, while sending friend requests did not make a difference.

However this does not mean that being a full-time Facebook hermit would neccessarily grant you a longer lifespan as another finding from the study showed that those people on Facebook with highest levels of offline social integration - measured by posting photos, which suggests real-world social activity had more longevity than those who only engage in online only behaviour like scrolling through your news feed or liking someone's post. Thus this shows that this mortality perk could only arise if your Facebook acitivity serves to maintain and improve your real-world relationships.

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