New York: If you are an avid Facebook user, here is some good news. A new study says that using Facebook is associated with living longer as it serves to maintain and enhance an individual's real-world social ties.
"Happily, for almost all Facebook users, what we found is balanced use and a lower risk of mortality," said James Fowler, Professor at the University of California-San Diego, in a study of 12 million Facebook users.
Interacting online seems to be healthy when the online activity is moderate and complements interactions offline.
"It is only on the extreme end, spending a lot of time online with little evidence of being connected to people otherwise, that we see a negative association," added William Hobbs, post-doctoral fellow at Northeastern University.
The finding showed that those who are on Facebook live longer than those who are not, and were nearly 12 per cent less likely to die than someone who doesn't use the social networking website.
People with average or large social networks, in the top 50 to 30 per cent, lived longer than those in the lowest 10.
Those on Facebook with highest levels of offline social integration -- as measured by posting more photos, which suggests face-to-face social activity -- have the greatest longevity.
Online-only social interactions, like writing wall posts and messages, showed a nonlinear relationship of which moderate levels were associated with the lowest mortality.
In addition, the study found that Facebook users who accepted the most friendships requests lived the longest.
For the study, the researchers studied counts of online activity over six months, comparing the activity of those still living to those who had died.
All of those studied were born between 1945 and 1989, and all the comparisons were made between people of similar age and gender.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).