Sunday, August 15, 2010

Using Online Networks to promote social connectedness

In my work in health promotion, I am concerned about social isolation.

Other buzz words include social capital, social inclusion, social connectedness, and loneliness.

Every now and again one sees something that really underscores how much we can underestimate something we know is critically important.

Have a look at this new reserch. This table and this meta analysis on health impact of social isolation really was a surprise to me in the scale of the positive impacts.

A Scientific America magazine article on the research is also available.

In short, good interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or a low BMI . Same goes for much of the other health messages out there. The table shows that social relationships are more influencial than smoking more than 15 cigerettes per day or drug treatment for hypertension.

To quote, "These findings indicate that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity. "

The conclusion to me- in your work, being teaching or health care, or any other- Take account of social connection-it matters. Build social capital.

As for what I hope to learn out this F0201o, I wonder everyday, "How can we use tools like Facebook, Twitter and Ning to promote healthy social connections?"

I have found useful background on loneliness at the UKs Mental Health Foundation.

I'm worried about internet addiction, links between use of the internet and depression.

I'm excited by newer social networking tools such a Facebook.

Ideas and leads welcome?

I’d value a good question if you don’t have part of the answer.

And look after your social connections while doing this course.


  1. I was interested to read your references to loneliness. I tell the story of how I lived and worked in Brisbane last year for 6 months without my family. In effect, I was all by myself. But I was not lonely. My online social networks, mostly with Twitter, kept me feeling connected to the world. And from my Twitter connections I met people F2F. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had those online networks.

    I'm still trying to get my head around social capital...can you explain that a little for me?

  2. Thanks for the question Sarah. I was stimulated by your question to write a new post in this blog. Online Facilitation as Building Social Capital

  3. There is nice little Youtube on Facebook and Social Capital here here