A new study has found that killing time on Facebook might actually help people live longer. According to a paper published just this week in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences (PNAS for short) journal, an active online social life could lead to health benefits in your real, 3-D life. The researchers found that “people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts. This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have had a net-negative impact on health.”
Researchers pored over 12 million social media profiles, as well as looked at records from the California Department Of Health, which they believe demonstrate a link between “moderate use” of the platform and a lower mortality rate. According to the paper, people with average to large social networks have longer life spans than those with much smaller ones. Of course, it’s the personable people who receive the most friend requests that are outliving their less popular counterparts; sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a health benefit related to sending many friend requests. So, we suppose that, along with a strict Pokémon Go regimen, sociable people may live forever.
If you’re scoffing over the results of this study in between clicking away on that “Add Friend” button, you should know that the study was approved by three university and state review boards. Furthermore, two of the researchers are well versed on Facebook usage, because they used to work for Facebook—that’s got to bolster your confidence. But Facebook’s direct involvement was limited to providing access to the profiles; according to postdoctoral fellow William Hobbs, “[w]e had some things in writing that they couldn’t interfere with the publication of the research no matter what the result was.” So you see, there’s no there there.