A new study reveals that people who receive and accept many friend requests on Facebook is more likely to live longer
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the link between social relationships in real life and longevity can be extended to the realm of social media. However, the beneficial effects of online social relationships can be only achieved if it is done in moderation and reflected strong social interaction in the offline world as well.
“Given the very strong association between real-world interactions and better health, it could be that the more you have moderate interactions online, the more likely you are to be friends with your Facebook friends offline as well, reinforcing the relationships,” explained William R. Hobbs, a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University and co-authored the study during his stay at UC San Diego, in a press release.
For the study, the researchers analyzed the Facebook activity of 12 million users living in California for six months in 2011, measuring the number of friends, photos, status updates, and messages and friend requests sent. The users involved in the study were born between 1945 and 1989.
To determine the mortality status and cause of death of the participants, the researchers compared their profiles against the California Department of Public Health vital records for 2012 and 2013.
The researchers discovered the users with large or average social networks, in the top 30 percent and 50 percent, lived longer than those in the lowest 10 percent. However, the link between longevity and social networks can only be observed to those who have accepted many friend requests. The researchers did not find the same effects in people who have initiated many friend requests.
Hobbs noted the study shows association only and does not prove causal relationship between longevity and social media use. However, Hobbs deem the findings to be disappointing due to the because it suggests that people trying to make more friends by initiating requests would not gain same benefits as to those people who are more attractive and are receiving more friend requests.