Facebook users could well end up being amongst the healthiest people on the planet. Indeed, if you don’t use social networks you may face an unhealthy future. Far from online social networks causing us problems, they may well end up being the technology which saves us all from fat-induced ill-health.
According to a review of research on the connection between social life and health conditions, researchers at the University of Exeter have found that the healthiest people are those with the best social life. Across a variety of different medial conditions, the study showed that the people with the healthiest lives were those who were the most social. Although doctors have known for years that a good social life tends to make people get better more quickly when they are ill, this new study adds to the growing research suggesting that a good social life can actually help make us healthy generally.
Indeed, the study implies that a good social life may well have more impact than diet or exercise. We are social creatures and crave connection with others. That’s why the likes of Facebook or Twitter are proving so popular. The whole Web 2.0 phenomenon panders to our desire to be social.
However, as we increasingly become reliant on new technology we are being forced into less social situations. Remote working, home working, mobile working – all lead us to spend less time with other people than we really want or need. The result of that is less social support and we tend to comfort eat, or get depressed or become obsessed with some kind of activity that takes our mind off our seeming loneliness.
Luckily, social networking sites – especially those which involve considerable interaction, such as Facebook – can fill the void. By taking part in social networking activities online you would be boosting your social life and thereby having a double whammy effect. First, you would be gaining the psychological support which this latest research confirms is necessary in maintaining good health. But, in addition, you would also be likely to avoid all those negative behaviours which tend to occur more frequently when you have a poor social life – eating too much, drinking, or being a couch potato.
Far from discouraging people from social networking – because it can be time consuming, “addictive”, or dangerous – we should be actively encouraging as many people as possible to take part. It will be good for their health.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+