A new study suggests that using Facebook can increase longevity, but only when used to maintain and enhance real-life social connections. Researchers from the University of California-San Diego looked at 12 million Facebook users and monitored online activity for those born between 1945 and 1989. When comparing Facebook users to non-Facebook users, the risk of dying in a given year was 12 percent lower for those who used Facebook.
The researchers looked at the number of Facebook photos posted that suggested face-to-face interactions. Those who had higher levels of offline social activity had the highest longevity. Spending a lot of time online with little evidence of being connected to people was associated with lower levels of mortality.
The research team found users with an average to large social network lived longer than those with fewer friends. This is consistent with other studies on real-world relationships. People who are lonely and socially isolated don’t live as long as those who maintain family and friend connections. If you’re feeling lonely and want to make new friendships, here are Dr. Nandi's prescriptions.
1. Participate in Community Events. You can find them online or in your local newspaper.
2. Try new hobbies or activities. Join a class at a gym, senior center or a community fitness center.
3. Reach out to those around you. Invite potential friends out for a cup of coffee or lunch.
4. Take daily walks. Exercise is great for your health and provides opportunity to meet others who are out and about.
The study found social behaviors can influence others. So if your friend starts exercising or eating better, you may be more likely to do so, too. Another perk is Facebook friends tend to provide social support during times of need. Many will step up when someone is sick or needs help.