Facebook can slow heart rate

Facebook training courses

Here's an interesting one for anyone in the health professions, or if you've an interest in the impact of social media platforms on the human body and mind.

Research by MIT and the University of Milan from earlier this year has shown that use of Facebook can aid relaxation, reduce stress levels and slow down the human heart rate.

The study took 30 students (so it must be said it isn't the broadest of study groups) and monitored them whilst using Facebook. 

Three comparisons were used in respect of activities:

  1. Looking at panoramic landscapes
  2. Performing mathematical equations
  3. Using Facebook

Looking at landscapes revealed the most relaxed states in students, but Facebook use uncovered high levels of attractiveness - and arousal.

In many respects it could be suggested that the claim a social media platform can reduce the human heart rate will surely be dependent on the content that a user is reading or looking at, and when compared to mathematics it may not be a surprise that people find Facebook less stressful.

However, when you read the full test conditions and recordings there is certainly enough to suggest the research should be given credit because of the monitoring that was performed.

For example, the researchers specifically monitored the following in the study group:

  1. Skin conductance
  2. Blood volume pulse
  3. Electroencephalogram (what is that?)
  4. Electromyography (and that?)
  5. Respiratory activity

So, this was no half-baked study. 

An abstract from the full paper says:

"The biological signals revealed that Facebook use can evoke a psychophysiological state characterized by high positive valence and high arousal (Core Flow State). These findings support the hypothesis that the successful spread of SNSs (social networks) might be associated with a specific positive affective state experienced by users when they use their SNSs account."

So there you have it.  If you've got stressed employees, patients who you need to relax a little, or you're just having a bad day and want to calm down a little - Facebook is the platform of choice!



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