New Study Finds 3 Surprising Ways Facebook Helps Relationships

You may think spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter is a bad thing—it eats at your time, it's a tool for procrastination, you've become a stalker—but new researcher may have you thinking twice before attempting a social networking sabbatical, especially if you're in a relationship. It turns out Facebook can be good for you. Facebook Stalking And Its Effect On Relationships

So say the folks at the PEW Research Center, who sought to investigate whether social networking sites isolated or truncated relationships between people. Their Internet and American Life Project sponsored a survey of 2,225 Americans to examine how Facebook, Twitter and other sites affected everyday life.

While some of their results were quite obvious—more people use Facebook on a daily basis, for example&mash;other findings from the survey provide an interesting glimpse into how social networking can improve interpersonal relationships, including romantic ones. Here are some findings:

Facebook makes you more trusting. The folks at PEW asked survey respondents if they thought, in general, "most people can be trusted." Overall, someone who uses the web is twice as likely as those who don't to be trusting of others. However, Facebook users are even more likely—those who used the site more than once a day were 43 percent more likely than other internet users to have faith in others. 5 Ways to Build Trust

Facebook leads to closer relationships. PEW data states that the average American has about two people with whom he/she can discuss important matters. Those with Facebook, however, have nine percent more close ties in their social circle as compared to other internet users. Perhaps this is because the site can help revive what PEW calls "dormant" relationships, like friends from high school and college that you may not see on a regular basis.

Facebook means more social support. Piggybacking off of the "closer relationships" finding, PEW investigated how much total support—emotional, companionship, etc—adults receive. The average American scored a 75 out of 100. Those who spend time on the internet scored higher overall, but Facebook users—more specifically, those who visited the site several times a day—scored five points higher in each category. The additional boost, researchers say, is equivalent to "about half the total support that the average American receives as a result of being married or cohabitating with a partner." Can Twitter Help Your Marriage?

Although the report doesn't make conclusions as to why Facebook users are more trusting, have closer relationships and more social support, we've got a few ideas of our own. Overall, since social networking keeps people in constant contact, no matter what distance separates them. You can maintain a close relationship with your best friend who lives cross country without ever having to pick up the phone—just write on her Facebook wall. When it comes to romance, keeping constant tabs on your partner's page—who is writing on it, what he is writing, etc.—might not be advised, but you're more willing to trust the other person if there is nothing suspicious on his Facebook. It's when you get too wary of what's happening on his wall that social networking could cause issues.

Has Facebook made you a more trusting person?

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