Social networks have been expanding rapidly in the past few years. Making online connections is now the new trend and meeting people is made easier by smartphones and other gadgets that utilize the power of internet. A person could contact another by a single tap and conversations could travel across oceans in seconds.
Scientists at UC San Diego believe that there is a complex relationship between social media and the health of its users. Results of their study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Journal, under the title “Online social integration is associated with reduced mortality risk.”
The team used Facebook as a platform to identify the user’s activity since it generally includes several types of media like photos, videos, and files. It is also largely concerned with connecting its users using various types of interests such as common friends, school, residence, likes and dislikes.
The Focal Point
The study was conducted to determine whether Facebook activity and mortality rates of registered California voters would have a correlation. James Fowler, senior author and a social scientist, wondered whether online activity has an effect to the longevity of live just like offline interactions.
The team gathered 12 million Facebook profiles in California along with their corresponding activities in the span of two years. These data was matched with the California Department of Public Health vital records and voter registration database. The pertinent files were then grouped according to age and gender in order to make comparisons of individuals within the relevant range. The scientists assessed the number of users who passed away over the span of two years.
Findings & Related Findings
The research findings clearly stated that friend requests sent by these users have no correlation to a person’s well-being whatsoever. But the real surprise was that the Facebook profiles which received and accepted lots of friend requests has a mortality rate of 66% the size of those with the least requests.
Offline interactions are still important since the other findings shows that posts with attached photos depicting real-life interactions is the factor that lowers mortality risk. It is not the online activities such as posting of statuses and sending of messages is not that relevant.
Past studies that used real-life connections were quite difficult to correlate since the person who initiated the friendship was hard to identify. It was later found out it was an important factor. The initiation was made easy to identify and measure by the technological advancement of social networking since researchers can retrieve two perspectives – from the people who sent requests and the person who accepted the requests.
No Substitute For Real Friendships
Scientists still stress that online friendships should not be treated as a substitute to real, in-person friends. Good friends mean that a person has a strong support system and an active social life promotes better health.
Fowler also believes that there are still many undiscovered ways of utilizing the online world in making users healthier.