Over the past decade there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over what all the screen time on Facebook and other social media might be doing to our health. But according to a new paper, time spent on social media could be associated with a longer life. The paper, published in the journal PNAS on Monday, asserts that the health effects of active online social lives largely mirror the benefits of busy offline social lives. “We find that people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts,” the paper says. “This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have had a net-negative impact on health.” The study’s methods are detailed at length in the paper, and it was approved by three university and state review boards.
But skeptics will note that Facebook itself was closely involved with the paper. William Hobbs, 29, a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University, worked at Facebook as a research intern in 2013. Another of the paper’s authors, Moira Burke, worked on it in her capacity as a research scientist at Facebook. Mr. Hobbs, who conducted the research while he was a doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, said Facebook had not interfered with the results of the paper.
The study was based on 12 million social media profiles made available to the researchers by Facebook, as well as records from the California Department of Health. It found that “moderate use” of Facebook was associated with the lowest mortality rate, and that receiving friend requests correlated with reduced mortality, but that sending friend requests did not.
So if you find yourself spending hours on Facebook, you no longer need to feel unproductive because you could be extending the length of your life. If you would like to visit our Facebook page, click here Hugg & Associates.