Facebook friends linked to social skills

You might be teased for having 800 Facebook friends but scientists believe that the size of your online network is, in fact, directly related to how many friends you have in real life

There is a link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the size of the part of your brain that controls social skills, according to researchers at University College London.

Previous tests have shown that people with lots of real-life friends tend to have a more developed amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with emotional response. But the latest study has found that an enlarged amygdala is also common in people with lots of Facebook friends.

‘Our findings support the idea most Facebook users use the site to reinforce existing relationships,’ says Professor Geraint Rees of the University College of London.

This seems to negate the popular theory that spending lots of time on the internet is bad for relationships and social skills.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist, has previously warned about the effects social networking can have on the brains of young users by encouraging self-centeredness and shorten attention spans.

She told the House of Lords in 2009 that repeated exposure could effectively rewire and infantilise the brain of the next generation.

What do you think? Does Facebook improve friendships by helping you keep in touch with people? Or do you agree with Baroness Greenfield that the internet makes us less sociable?

Let Marie Claire know your thoughts below.

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