Is the world’s most popular social networking site the secret to longevity?
Possibly, but there’s a catch.
According to the results of a new study, all those hours you spend endlessly scrolling through your news feed may actually be good for you.
“We find that people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts,” the paper reads.
“This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have had a net-negative impact on health.”
The study looked at more than 12 million Facebook profiles and records from the California Department of Health. However, the results should be taken with a grain of salt considering at least two individuals who conducted it have or are currently working for Facebook.
Additionally, there’s a super sad detail that a lot of people have missed.
The lower mortality risk was associated with the number of friend requests accepted, not extended.
Basically, what that means is that telling people to go out and try to make more friends has pretty much no effect on health.
Of course, this is an observational study so just because there’s a positive association between using Facebook and living longer, doesn’t mean that the former causes the latter.
In fact, one of the study’s co-authors even suggests that people should prioritize deepening their real friendships over growing their social networks.
“In the real world, health behaviors are only transmitted between very close friends,” says social scientist James Fowler, echoing the findings of studies like this one that suggests that working out with a friend is the best way to stay motivated and get fit.
So in other words, put down your phones for a second and go out with your friends IRL. It’s not just good for your social life, but for your health too.