Who Knew Facebook Could Be Good for You?

I’ve always been a proponent of Facebook and other social networking sites such as Myspace, LinkedIn and Twitter because I think they are a great tool to share your world with your friends and to learn from others.  A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that Internet use, specifically Facebook, is increasingly affecting our social lives and how we relate to each other. In this study, those who used social networks increased their number of close friends to 2.45. In the past, Mochi noted that Facebook doesn’t actually help you make new friends, considering that most reported that 90 percent of the time they made their close friends offline, but the burden of maintaining these friendships is lessened by social networking sites. In fact, Facebook users who log on several times a day had 9 percent more close ties in their overall social network than other internet users, presumably because using Facebook makes it so easy to stay connected.

Facebook gets more of a good rap when the study looked at the amount of support users feel they receive from their friends. “Social support” was defined by emotional support (i.e., getting advice about problems), companionship (people you actually spend time with), and instrumental support (getting help when you’re sick). Regular Internet users scored around 3-5 points higher than non-Internet users out of a scale of 100, and Facebook users scored 5 additional points over Internet users in categories of social support.

This study was great because it didn’t just focus on communication; it brings up the idea of being one post away from new and old friends. Back in the old days, you’d never get the chance to talk so frequently due to timing, long-distance bills, etc. I have friends who don’t have Facebook, and I try to convince them to get one so we can chat more than once a year. Social networking sites are amazing tools, and as this study shows, your social life is richer when you use them.