For all of the negative publicity that Facebook gets, it’s about time that something positive appears to be resulting from its use. We’ve all made jokes about our friends or even ourselves being addicted to Facebook. We’ve all had to block at least one game application that someone is just dying to get us to play. We’ve seen people post things that are wildly inappropriate, way too personal, or just downright stupid.
Now, researchers at the University College of London have found that people who have a large number of Facebook friends also tend to have better social skills, and that the portions of their brains that govern these social skills are more developed. But is it a case of Facebook causing the brain and those social skills to develop, or are those with naturally more developed brains simply predisposed to have more friends, both online and off?
That’s the current debate, and the University College of London plans to continue its research to investigate this question as well. Over time, the researchers say, they will be able to study whether social media networking sites are actually affecting the brain structure of human beings.
The researchers are challenging the notion that the Internet is “bad” for us by using modern tools in the field of neuroscience. Brain scans using MRI technology were used on a sample of 165 students to examine the areas of the brain that support social abilities, namely the amygdala, the right superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus, and the right entohinal cortex.
The group found that these areas of the brain were enlarged in the 125 students that had an average of 300 Facebook friends or more, as compared to the 40 students that did not use Facebook or other social networking sites. They plan to continue to study the students and perform MRI scans to determine if the brain structure is actually changing over time due to the development and exercise of social skills.