by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
dangers, social networks, studies

Social Networking Will Kill You... Or Maybe Not

from the scary dept

A story doing the rounds says a new article in a British biology journal claims that social networking is harmful to your health, running under headlines like "How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer." Apparently replacing face-to-face human contact with online socializing "could alter the way genes work, upset immune responses, hormone levels, the function of arteries, and influence mental performance," according to the BBC, leading to an increase of serious health problems -- or, put a slightly more sensationalized way, Twitter will kill you. Charles Arthur at The Guardian's tech blog actually bothered to read the entire article, not just the press release, and says the breathless stories are based on more on bad journalism than junk science. The original article doesn't ever really get into the direct effect of online social networks, beyond saying people are spending more and more time on them, and never mentions any by name; it just says people are spending less time with other people, and that biologists should work to create more awareness of the detrimental effects that can have. But hey, that's way less interesting than saying MySpace is going to rot your insides.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2009 @ 10:26am

    Ban Books

    We should ban books, too. Everything said about on-line social networks avoiding human contact would apply just as much to someone sitting at home and reading a book instead of going out to a social event.

    One of the basic assumptions in the original article is very commonly made, but is totally wrong. Everyone assumes that social networking/internet use is done by people sitting at home in a dark room. I run a college computer lab. Even though all the students have computers in their dorm rooms, they come to the computer labs and get on facebook/myspace, et.al. They chatter away verbally as they visit various websites, often having several people visit the same page at once. At home I have noticed that my kids take their laptops to the same room and chatter away as they surf and use social networks.

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