Facebook use linked to greater awareness of physical ailments, study finds

Facebook users who use the social networking site frequently are more aware of their physical ailments than those who don't, according to a recent study from the University of Surrey in England.

Bridget Dibb, PhD, a health psychology researcher at the university, polled 165 Facebook users about their Facebook use and tendency to compare themselves with other users on the social network, and asked questions related to self-esteem, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction and physical health. From there, she investigated how Facebook use influenced respondents' perceptions of their physical health.

"The results showed that participants were indeed socially comparing via [Facebook]," reads the study, published Jan. 8 in journal Heliyon.

Dr. Dibb noted the study only demonstrates a link between Facebook use and a user's perception of physical ailments — but doesn't answer whether comparisons while using Facebook lead to greater awareness of physical health, or whether those who experience physical ailments use Facebook more frequently.

"Our most important finding was that participants who feel Facebook is an important part of their lives also report more symptoms, linking social comparison activity with the perception of worse physical health," she explained in a news release. "It is important to study this further."

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