The benefit of social media depends on how a person uses it. Too much exposure can cause lack of real-world interactions. The worst case if it's being used to spread hatred to others. A recent study shows that people are less likely to die if they use Facebook moderately and it enhances their real-life relations.
Social Media Interaction Can Be Healthy
Researchers from the University of California San Diego worked with colleagues from Yale University and Facebook. In their study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, it was revealed that Facebook users live longer.
According to the UC San Diego News Center, the first finding suggested that an average Facebook user is about 12 percent less likely to die. This is in a given year compared to someone who does not use the site. But the researchers also pointed out that it may be actually caused by social or economic differences between the user and non-user groups.
One of the authors William Hobbs shared that online interaction is healthy as long as it's moderate. More importantly, he said that it should complement real-life interactions too. Otherwise, it could be detrimental to people.
Co-author James Fowler added that most of the 12 million Facebook users they studied are engage in a balanced use and lower risk of mortality.
What The Findings Show?
According to the Grand Forks Herald, the researchers used anonymized data to protect the privacy of the Facebook users living in California. The subjects all joined the site before October 2010. They were also aged from 20s to 60s during the first six months of 2011. That period is what the coverage of the study.
The researchers matched it to the Facebook users' records from the California Department of Public Health. They looked into mortality rates and causes among the Facebook users and 89,597 non-users. Apparently, users of the social media site were 12 percent less likely to die.
Furthermore, those who had accepted most friend requests were about 34 percent less likely to die. This is in comparison to those who had accepted only a few. However, there did not seem to be any effect for those who send the friend requests. Fowler expressed that this is actually disappointing. This means that people who seek out friendship may not be getting any health benefits.
Facebook users who posted most photos and fewer status updates are about 30 percent less likely to die. Hobbs added that there did not seem to be any relationship between Facebook likes and health.
The Risk Of Death
Those with the lowest risk of death are people who were tagged in the most Facebook photos. These are the same people who also use the social media site moderately. Fowler mentioned that how a person uses his/her Facebook can be used to identify signs of unhealthy behavior. Thus, those who are suicidal of have heart disease could be given the appropriate health interventions.
His/her Facebook friends could intervene and lessen the risk of possible death. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine's Dr. Michael Thase seemed to agree. Such inexpensive interventions can also be done in other social media sites. He told Reuters Health that it's a good thing that the social media is being used in monitoring such risks.