Sunday, February 12, 2012

Facebook is GOOD for you: Social networks relax the heart rate and trigger 'a natural high'

Another nasty one for "Baroness" Greenfield

Websites like Facebook may actually be good for you, according to the latest psychological study on users. Researchers found using social networks can spark a natural high leading to a relaxed heart rate and lower levels of stress and tension.

While it seems like a solitary activity, the interaction with others via these networks has a positive effect on body and mind, said joint American and Italian research.

And that buzz could explain the massive success of social networking in general and Facebook in particular.

University researchers in Milan wired up 30 students aged 19-25, monitoring the reactions of their brain, blood pressure, skin conductance, pupil dilation and heart rate. These readings show levels of arousal, excitement, stress and relaxation said the study for online journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.

The students were then given three minute exercises - either looking at panoramic landscapes, a short time on Facebook or a complicated mathematical task.

Not surprisingly the first made the students the most relaxed and the maths test made them the most stressed.

But the Facebook time threw up a whole new set of unexpected results that were neither stressed out or over relaxed. Instead they found it brought out reactions suggesting the person had found high levels of attractiveness and arousal.

The research was conducted jointly by the Auxologico Italian Institute, the Catholic University, both in Milan, and the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It found: 'The success of social networking sites might be associated with a specific positive affective state experienced by users when they use their account.'


Facebook can produce "natural highs" in users - study. Social website "makes users more healthy, joyful"

Another report of the study above

USING Facebook is like attending an online party, mental-health experts say.

Until now the popular social-networking site has been blamed for all manner of ills - bullying, depression and antisocial behaviour. But scientists have now discovered it can also produce "natural highs" in many users, lowering levels of anxiety and stress.

The so-called buzz created by the site could help explain the massive success of social networking, and of Facebook in particular, according to a new study for online journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.

The Italian study monitored 30 regular Facebook users' physical reactions, such as their pupil dilation, blood flow and breathing, while they were on the site and concluded it made them more healthy, "joyful" and "intellectually aroused".

Melbourne psychologist Dr Simon Crisp said using Facebook provided an interesting social challenge for its users. "It is like an online party, and the more it gets closer to that type of interaction, the greater the engagement is likely to be and therefore the greater the enjoyment for people," Dr Crisp said.

With 845 million people using Facebook regularly, it is little wonder more people are joining the party.

Rowville's Lynn Bain, 46, spends about eight hours a day on Facebook catching up with friends and family. "If you post something, usually you will get a response quickly and usually it is a positive response," she said.

Social networking is also a constant companion for the stay-at-home mum while her husband is at work and her two sons are at university. "It is someone to talk to because I am home alone. It makes me feel good knowing that there is someone there to talk to," Ms Bain said.

Science has proven happiness is a mouse-click away.


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