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Lots of studies have been done over the years about social connectedness: how people interact with each other, and how higher levels of social interaction with friends correlate with decreased levels of depression and anxiety.
Now, though, we have the internet. For many of us, a lot of our interaction is now happening through screens: live tweeting from events, checking Facebook for messages, looking to see who’s “Liked” the latest drunken status update. How does this fit into the scale of social connectedness and psychological well-being? Is chatting to someone on Facebook essentially the same as talking to them face to face, at least as far as our brain patterns are concerned?
A group of Australian researchers have recently conducted a study about these questions. Looking at people using a mixture of online and offline interactions, they conducted an analysis to see whether they essentially described the same kind of social connectedness. It turns out that they are in fact separate social constructs. Not entirely surprising when you consider how different it feels to be slobbing out in your pyjamas chatting via FB message, rather than sitting in pub, looking like you’ve brushed your hair and drinking a glass of wine with a group of friends.
Interestingly, despite the differences between online and offline interaction, both types correlated with a lower level of depression and anxiety, and also with a greater level of general satisfaction with life.
So, there you have it. Chatting on Facebook is good for you.