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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Nov 15;113(46):12980-12984. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Online social integration is associated with reduced mortality risk.

Author information

1
Division of Social Sciences, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093; whobbs@ucsd.edu fowler@ucsd.edu.
2
Network Science Institute, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115.
3
Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.
4
Facebook, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
5
Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.
6
Department of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.
7
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.
8
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.
9
School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093.

Abstract

Social interactions increasingly take place online. Friendships and other offline social ties have been repeatedly associated with human longevity, but online interactions might have different properties. Here, we reference 12 million social media profiles against California Department of Public Health vital records and use longitudinal statistical models to assess whether social media use is associated with longer life. The results show that receiving requests to connect as friends online is associated with reduced mortality but initiating friendships is not. Additionally, online behaviors that indicate face-to-face social activity (like posting photos) are associated with reduced mortality, but online-only behaviors (like sending messages) have a nonlinear relationship, where moderate use is associated with the lowest mortality. These results suggest that online social integration is linked to lower risk for a wide variety of critical health problems. Although this is an associational study, it may be an important step in understanding how, on a global scale, online social networks might be adapted to improve modern populations' social and physical health.

KEYWORDS:

health; longevity; social media; social networks; social support

PMID:
27799553
PMCID:
PMC5135317
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1605554113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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