Consumer Alert: A UB study finds a link between social media use and poor health

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — This consumer alert examines the reasons for your constant headache. Or maybe you suffer from a bad back. These could all be associated with the time you spend on social media. That’s the conclusion of a study by researchers at the University of Buffalo.

This study is getting a lot of attention because it leads to the following question: Could social media be making you sick? The study actually links use of social media to poor physical health. We’ve all seen the studies indicating social media can impact your mental health.

But researchers at UB discovered that the more people used social media, the more likely they were to suffer from headaches, chest and back pain. But there’s more. Folks who spent hours on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram actually had changes in their blood. They had higher levels of a biological marker that predicts serious illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Consider the fact that recent surveys show that teens and young adults spend as much as six hours a day on social media. UB researchers conducted the study by taking blood samples from 251 students and getting information about their social media use.

But keep in mind, this study shows a correlation, not causation. It leaves us with the proverbial chicken or the egg question. Does social media cause health problems or do people with health problems use more social media?

In the meantime, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, just announced that the company is building an artificial intelligence supercomputer that’s so cutting edge, so complex, it will be the fastest supercomputer in the world.

And he’s being especially tight-lipped. He won’t tell reporters how much it costs or even where it’s located. How will this affect you, the consumer? The computer can learn from trillions of examples across hundreds of languages and determine whether content is harmful. It should be finished by the middle of this year.

And this week we learned that Twitter is making some bold moves to try to protect your privacy and increase security. The company’s new CEO, Parag Agrawal is replacing the security team. According to The New York Times, Twitter’s head of security and chief information officer are out. In recent years, Twitter has struggled with cyberattacks and the release of user information. You’ll remember in 2020 Twitter apologized when hackers got control of some accounts and sent out tweets.

Ultimately, the message for us, as consumers, is this: All things in moderation. Social media can connect us all. But we all need to know when to disconnect too. And that’s your Consumer Alert.