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Facebook for Longer Life?

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How Using Facebook May Help Lower Mortality Risk 

You may have seen the headlines: Using Facebook can help you live longer. But don’t stop reading there. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds it’s not just signing up for Facebook that matters but rather how you’re using it. 

Working directly with Facebook, researchers from UC San Diego and Yale analyzed public health records and Facebook use data for more than 12 million people in California. Yes, they found the risk of dying in a given year is about 12% less for Facebook users than non-users, but that could have been due to several unrelated factors such as education or income. 

What they really found was how you used Facebook mattered most. People who accepted the most friend requests were 34% less likely to die compared with those who accepted the least friendships. Posting photos was important too: Those who posted the most photos saw a 30% drop in risk of death compared to the average. 

These results point to two interesting things. First, longevity is linked to the willingness of others to seek out connection and friendship, not just your own. (Translation: People have to want to be your friend!) Second, if posting photos of you and your friends is linked to longer lifespan, it may be offline social activity that is the real key to longevity rather than Facebook itself. 

Friendship and social support have long been linked to health, well-being and longevity, and this study finds Facebook may be a tool to strengthen meaningful real-life relationships rather than virtually replace them. We’re all for using Facebook (we’re on it too!) but be sure to make time to connect with your friends in real life. For an extra health boost, try meeting up for a game of soccer, round up the crew for a hike, or gather some friends and try a new recipe. Snap some photos, share them on Facebook and you might just add a few years to your life. 

BONUS: Think this is interesting? Share it on Facebook! Research shows posting articles on social media may help you better connect with and absorb the information you read.

Published January 1, 2017

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