Ten years ago, when Facebook hit college campuses around the country, it looked a helluva lot different than it does today. For one, it lived at TheFacebook.com—and you could do little more than look up your fellow students. Now? With more than 1 billion active users, 6 billion daily likes, 350 million photos updated per day, Facebook is celebrating its first double digit birthday: the big 1-0.And there could be more to celebrate than just a birthday: Since Facebook’s birth, researchers have found that logging on can actually be good for your health—especially for guys. “In general, men don’t have as close friendships as women do and often find it easier to express themselves or even ask for help online than in person,” says Eva Buechel, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami
who studies motivations for posting content online. Even anticipating a response to a post can improve your mood regardless of the reactions you actually receive, she adds.
here are 10 ways to use the social network to your advantage.
1. Boost your confidence in minutes. According to a Cornell University study, spending just 3 minutes on Facebook can make you feel better about yourself, possibly because you’re able to choose the information you put out there. Bonus: Editing your own profile during a Facebook break yields the biggest confidence boost, researchers say.
2. Chill out by perusing posts. Students experienced a decrease in heart rate and lower levels of stress and tension when using the social network, report researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
3. Dream up vacation ideas. German researchers found that many users report feeling envious while visiting Facebook. Specifically, drooling over others’ vacation photos triggers more than half of jealousy-inducing incidents. But research shows taking a vacation reduces stress, increases satisfaction, and could even help you live longer. Turn your resentment into inspiration and book that beach getaway—then make others jealous with photos of your toes in the sand.
4. Show off! Nearly two thirds of men report putting their art, music, writing, and photography online compared to just 50 percent of women, Northwestern University researchers found.
5. Drop pounds. Participants following a weight loss program shed more weight—4.5 pounds, on average—when they joined a Facebook group than those who followed the program without the social media component. Sharing your goals and progress can help you feel accountable and motivated. (It’s a good idea to transfer some of your social strategies to your fitness strategies. Consider these five fitness social media outlets to keep you motivated and on-track.)
6. Fight pain. People report lower levels of pain while viewing photos of a loved one, say UCLA researchers. Got a dentist’s appointment scheduled? Cue up your girlfriend’s profile.
7. Boost productivity. In a study at the University of Melbourne, workers given a 10-minute break to read Facebook were 16 percent more productive than a group that wasn’t allowed to use the Internet during the rest, and 40 percent more productive than people who didn’t receive a break at all.
8. Smarten up. A University of Arizona study found that older adults who used Facebook experienced a 25 percent improvement in their working memory, possibly because it requires you to process so much information—photos, status updates, and comments—at once. It’s a mini mental workout.
9. Land a date. Men feel more confident saying things online they may not say in person, Buechel says. In other words, logging on can give you the guts to message a girl you’re attracted to, but are afraid to make the first move with face-to-face.
10. Stay informed. Thirty-one percent of men and women say keeping up with the news is the major reason they log on to Facebook, according to Pew Research Center survey findings.