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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 20 Feb 2009 @ 8:33am

    I know virtually nobody who uses Facebook to socialise *instead* of face-to-face contact. It gets used to either organise social lives or to contact people that would not normally be able to be contacted (due to geographical location or work schedules, for example).

    I also know very few people who use the internet instead of having a social life. It usually replaces time that they might have spent reading, watching TV or even sleeping rather than the time they would have participated in other activities. So, I doubt there really is any net reduction in the way people socialise, and what reduction there is probably has little directly to do with the internet.

    Anyway, "bad journalism"? Of course. It's no surprise that the linked article is from that right-wing reactionary rag the Daily Fail. If I read that they said the sky was blue, I'd look up to check.

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