Friends are known to be good for our psychological well-being and overall health, but a new study suggests it might not just be offline relationships that contribute to good health. Online social media can be beneficial - if we use them correctly.
                    
Facebook or other social media might be good for your health, research suggests.

            

In this modern world it is very hard to find out a person who does not use any social media. It is a common mass media for all kinds of people. There are different opinions about the advantages and side effects of using social media. But a new study revealed that using social media properly increases longevity.

The Social Media

Social media are computer-mediated technologies that allow individuals, companies, NGOs,governments, and other organizations to view, create and share information,ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.


Social media use web-based and mobile technologies on smartphones and tablet computers to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals, communities and organizations can share, co-create,discuss, and modify user-generated content or pre-made content posted online.


The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features:

  • Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications,
  • User-generated content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, as well as data generated through all online interactions, are the lifeblood of the social media organism,
  • Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app, that are designed and maintained by the social media organization and
  • Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user's profile with those of other individuals and/or groups.


Social media technologies take many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, micro blogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds.


In 2016, Merriam-Webster defined social media as "Forms of electronic communication (such as Web sites)through which people create online communities to share information, ideas,personal messages, etc."


The term social media is usually used to describe social networking sites such as:


Facebook – an online social networking site that allows users to create their personal profiles, share photos and videos, and communicate with other users


Twitter – an internet service that allows users to post "tweets" for their followers to see updates in real-time


LinkedIn – a networking website for the business community that allows users to create professional profiles, post resumes, and communicate with other professionals and job-seekers.


Pinterest– an online community that allows users to display photos of items found on the web by "pinning" them and sharing ideas with others.


Snapchat-an app on mobile devices that allows users to send and share photos of themselves doing their daily activities.

            

A new study suggests it might not just be offline relationships that contribute to good health. Online social media can be beneficial - if we use them correctly.

            

The new study on social media uses

Friends are known to be good for our psychological well-being and overall health, but a new study suggests it might not just be offline relationships that contribute to good health. Online social media can be beneficial - if we use them correctly.


Now we live in a modern globalized world. As a result more and more people are living away from their family and birthplace. This sometimes leads to the breaking of social ties and increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Advantages of having close friends have been linked to longevity as early as the late 1970s. A 9-year long study then showed that people with no social and community ties were up to 2.8 times more likely to die prematurely than those with extensive social connections.


Since then, similar studies have been carried out bearing similar results.


In fact, a meta-analysis of over 148studies revealed that strong social ties improve chances of survival by as much as 50%. The research also shows that loneliness is a mortality risk factor as significant as smoking and alcohol consumption.

            

Facebook or other social media are used to maintain and improve real-life social connections.

            

How do online friends can help us live longer?

A new study suggests that using Facebook or other social media increases longevity. However, this is only the case when Facebook or other social media are used to maintain and improve real-life social connections, according to the authors.


The study looked at 12 million Facebook and other social media users and was led by University of California-San Diego researchers William Hobbs and James Fowler.


The findings confirm what has been known to be true for the offline world.


"Happily,for almost all Facebook users, what we found is [a correlation between]balanced use and a lower risk of mortality," says senior author James Fowler.


The number of Facebook"likes" has not been shown to affect longevity in any way.


The results of the study have been published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, in which the researchers matched California Facebook users with vital records from the California Department of Public Health.


They studied people born between1945 and 1989, and monitored their online activity over a period of 6 months.The researchers compared the activity of those still living with those who had died.


The first significant finding is that Facebook users live longer than those who are not online. In a given year, the average Facebook user is approximately 12% less likely to die than someone who does not use the networking site.


Users with average or large social networks - that is, in the top 50 to 30 percent - lived longer than those in the lowest 10%. This result is in line with previous studies of offline relationships and longevity.

            

The study found that Facebook or other social media users with the highest levels of offline social activity also have the highest longevity.

            

Online activity and it’s linked with mortality

The scientist team also considered the number of friends, photos, status updates, wall posts, and messages sent to see if those who were more active lived longer. Offline social activity was considered to be higher if users posted more photos of face-to-face social activity.


The study team found that Facebook or other social media users with the highest levels of offline social activity also have the highest longevity.


Moderate levels of online-only activity, such as writing posts and messages, were associated with the lowest levels of mortality.


"Interacting online seems to be healthy when the online activity is moderate and complements interactions offline. 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," says William Hobbes, lead researcher.


The research also indicated that those who accepted the most friendship requests lived the longest.


This could mean that proactively seeking friendships is not necessarily beneficial to one's health. So public health initiatives prompting people to go out and make more friends might be misguided.


The researchers observed that their findings, while significant, are not enough for devising new policies or government recommendations. They also emphasize that their findings simply indicate a correlation and should not be interpreted as causation.


Hobbs and Fowler would like their study to inspire many other similar studies, so that eventually we have enough data to inform the population of new guidelines.


"What happens on Facebook and other social networks is very likely important," Fowler says. "But what we can't do at this time is give either individual or larger policy recommendations based on this first work."

            

Researches have also shown that a higher number of Facebook friends is associated with stronger perceptions of social support, which decreases stress and lowers the risk of physical illness.

            

Loneliness and social media’s impacts on it

Now in this modern globalized world more and more people are living alone and people across the globe report increasing feelings of loneliness.


In the 2014, 1 in 10 people reported not having a single close friend in Great Britain and in the United States,according to a 2010 study carried out by the American Association of Retired Persons, 43% of Americans aged 45-49 reported feeling lonely on a regular basis.


The research such as the one led by Hobbes and Fowler are important because they add the online medium to the wider picture of social isolation and the health benefits of social relationships.


Again other studies have also shown that a higher number of Facebook friends is associated with stronger perceptions of social support, which decreases stress and lowers the risk of physical illness.


All the research result mean that in the larger context of increasing isolation, social media, if used in moderation, can provide some much-needed comfort.

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