The News Is Out About Social Networking Websites

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


News about social networking websites and your partners healthOur modern lifestyle is filled with stressors. They are the result of our everyday interaction, the jobs we do, the society we live in, and even the food we eat! But what about social networking websites? Do they too have an impact on our stress levels? Research is slightly ambivalent on this.

About Social Networking Websites and Their Impact on Users

While it is already known that the caliber of one’s own social network is related to cardiovascular risk, a new study published online at PLOS ONE has found that a spouse’s social network quality can influence his or her significant other’s blood pressure, and subsequently, cardiovascular risk.

A total of 94 couples’ social networks was researched using a comprehensive model of relationships that divided the social relationships into positive, negative, or both positive and negative (ambivalent). Statistical analysis  was then used to differentiate the link between a partner’s network quality, on blood pressure, your own network quality on blood pressure, and finally a couple combined social network quality on blood pressure.

Participants typically had an average of 8 positive relationships, 8 positive and negative relationships, and 1 negative relationship.

Going along with previous studies, one’s own social network was indeed tied to his or her own health, with more positive relationships associated with lower blood pressure, and negative relationships associated with higher blood pressure. On top of that, it was found that being married to a spouse with fewer supportive ties was also linked with higher levels of blood pressure. higher blood pressures were also found in participants whose partner had negative or ambivalent social relationships.

Researchers hypothesized that negative interactions from outside the home can spillover and influence home interactions. this would lead to negative feelings and anger towards the spouse. Anger in marriage has been linked to increased  coronary calcification.

Fewer positive social relationships also means less access to emotional support and coping options, leading to less effective stress management. The lack of supportive relationships can also mean that more personal resources must be spent to deal with stressors.

The researchers concluded that while a connection has been established, variables such as cardiovascular changes over time or the length of supportive relationships. They highlighted the importance of finding positive coping resources and revealing new sources of relationship strains that can be discussed and dealt with accordingly.

We have seen time and time again the importance of family and friends support in the overall well being of people under our program. People that have good support systems seems to recover faster and better because emotionally and physically they are taken care of, understood, and encouraged.

In short, social networking websites have the potential of having either a positive or negative effect on our lives, depending on circumstances.

A Summary of the Benefits of Social Media Networking Websites

About social networking websites and moderation

  1. It allows us to keep in touch with the people in our lives.
  2. It is a place where we gain acceptance.
  3. It provides distraction and relief from boredom.
  4. It affords one the opportunity to meet up with like-minded people and thus engage in discussion.
  5. It is a way of socialization, especially for those who are unable to mingle with others due to, for example, health reasons.

A Summary of the Drawbacks of Social Media Networking Websites

  1. It is a potential form of addiction.
  2. It causes stress due to cyber bullying, negative interactions with others, the bombardment by media with articles/information that are all negative in nature.
  3. Many with social media accounts find it difficult to relax.
  4. It has an influence on your mood. It connects you to a wide number of people as well as the stressful situations in their lives which in turn has a negative impact on you.
  5. It leads to multitasking, i.e. switching back and forth between work and social media. The drawback is it impacts your work life and compromises productivity.
  6. Studies show that long-term exposure to social media networking websites leads to depression, stress, and anxiety, especially in adolescents.

The Physiological Results Found About Social Networking Websites

Research shows that constant exposure to social media networking site leads to the constant promotion of ‘self’, with people trying, at all times, to present themselves in the best positive light. Besides this, there is also the constant alertness of people in order to respond to the latest message, for example. The result is that the body is in a constant state of awareness, resulting in the constant release of cortisol and adrenaline. The body is, in effect, in constant fight or flight mode.
The results are potentially debilitating, as the more the body is forced to produce the hormones necessary for survival, so it shuts off those functions which are considered unnecessary for survival. With the heightened, consistent cortisol production, however, you start finding a discrepancy and dysregulation regarding the manufacturing of other hormones, for example, necessary for other body functions such as digestion, to name but one.

Besides this, the constant production of the stress hormones puts a lot of pressure on the adrenal glands to keep up production. Finally, at some point, the adrenal glands are no longer to keep up this production. The result is burnout, a condition that is associated with many symptoms, among them constant fatigue, brain fog, high blood glucose levels and possibly prediabetes or diabetes, weight gain, sleep problems, constant anxiety, and depression.

What to do About Social Networking Websites and Addiction

About social networking websites and addiction

  • The first step towards recovery from social addiction, and thereby, your physiological and psychological recovery, is acknowledging you have an addiction.
  • When you get the urge to log onto a social networking website first remind yourself as to why you joined it. Was it to find friends, connect with those who had similar interests, or to comment/chat all the time?
  • Set limits on your time by allocating yourself a certain period per day. If it becomes difficult to stay away, go do something else such as walking the dog or reading a book.
  • Only log into social media once your day’s work is complete. It leads to less stress worrying about deadlines.
  • Only connect with people you really know.
  • Take time out for yourself away from thinking about social networking websites. Join a group or start a hobby.
  • Eat correctly! Your addiction has already taken a toll on your body’s physiological makeup. Consider following a diet suitable for those with a compromised adrenal system in order to get your hormones in balance one more and the different components of the HPA-axis functioning optimally.

© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

News about social networking websites and your partners health