You are what you tweet? Study finds relationship between Twitter, heart health

A fascinating study has come from the University of Pennsylvania regarding Twitter and your cardiac health.  The results?  Get this: the angrier the people are that you follow on Twitter, the greater are the odds that you’re going to have a heart attack.  According to Johannes Eichstaedt, the student who led the study, “Our analysis suggests that Twitter captures the psychological milieu of the community.”

The line of logic behind the study is that a hostile Twitter community is related to other factors that are related to heart disease.  However, an important note from Statistics 101: correlation does not equal causation.  In other words, it’s not necessarily that an angry Twitter following causes a heart attack, or that having heat disease makes you more likely to have a group of bitter Twitter followers.  It could be either of those items, or it could be a third option, that something unrelated causes both the nasty Twitter community and the heart disease.

This is one in a series of studies that discuss connection between social media and your physical and emotional health.  On one hand, studies have proven that Facebook can be beneficial to emotional health, particularly among the elderly.  On the other hand, social media has a wide array of negative impacts as well, including leading to increased (negative) comparisons of people’s lives, addition, glamorizing drug/alcohol use and increased Fear of Missing Out.

One possible implication of all of this research? As social media continues to evolve and become more integrated in our lives, I suspect that more and more schools will teach social media use, safety and boundaries. In the long run, I think this is important: my kids are toddlers and I have a feeling they will never know a world without social media. To that end, social media education will be vitally necessary, to be provided by someone – perhaps our educational system?

What do you think – teach social media in schools?  Am I drawing the right conclusion? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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