Being social on Facebook may just lead to a longer life, according to a new study.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study discovered Facebook users are likely to live longer than non-members. In fact, the risk of death was 12 percent lower for Facebook users.
There are even particular Facebook activities that can be associated with longer life, such as posting pictures and accepting friend requests.
That does not mean you should become a Facebook junkie, though. Moderation, the study found, is key.
“Interacting online seems to be healthy when the online activity is moderate and complements interactions offline,” said first author William Hobbs, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University. “It is only on the extreme end, spending a lot of time online with little evidence of being connected to people otherwise, that we see a negative association.”
The researchers studied numbers of friends, numbers of photos and status updates, numbers of wall posts sent and messages sent, to determine if Facebook users who were more active lived longer, taking into account age, gender, relationship status, length of time on Facebook, and Smartphone use (which is a proxy for income).
According to the study, people with networks in the top 50 to 30 percent lived longer than those in the lowest 10, which is consistent with many other studies regarding offline relationships and longevity.
“The association between longevity and social networks was identified by Lisa Berkman in 1979 and has been replicated hundreds of times since,” said senior author James Fowler, professor of political science in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences and of global public health in the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“In fact, a recent meta-analysis suggests the connection may be very strong. Social relationships seem to be as predictive of lifespan as smoking, and more predictive than obesity and physical inactivity. We’re adding to that conversation by showing that online relationships are associated with longevity, too.”
The researchers are hoping their study will inspire additional research that will lead to “a better understanding of what kinds of online social experiences are protective of health.”
“What happens on Facebook and other social networks is very likely important,” Fowler added. “But what we can’t do at this time is give either individual or larger policy recommendations based on this first work.”
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.