LIVING
09/28/2011 07:51 EDT | Updated 11/26/2011 05:12 EST

Women And Friendships: Why We Are Falling Behind In Keeping Up Our Social Lives

Shutterstock

Ladies, we need to get a life. No, seriously.

Women are spending way less time on their social lives, according to recent figures from Statistics Canada.

Consider this: In 1998, 70 percent of women indicated that they regularly took part in social activities -- these days, however, that number has dropped to 62 percent. But it's not that we don't have enough time for friends and socializing -- in 1998, 40 percent of women said they didn't have the time, compared to only 36 percent today.

In other words, we have time to hang out with friends, we just don't do it. What are we spending all our free time on? You guessed it -- Facebook. Women are far more addicted to social media than men, and it seems the majority of us are spending more time cultivating our online friendships than having facetime with our besties. “Social media has given a lot of people the idea that they’re more connected than they are,” Patricia Leavy, an associate professor of sociology at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, told the National Post. “Putting a post on Facebook about what’s going on in your life is hardly the same as a ladies’ night out, but it may give the illusion that [you're] social.”

There's also the fact that we have fewer friends than before -- research by the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa shows that women of today only have two or three close friends compared to four or five in the 1970s and 1980s. Has technology made us less reliant on our friends?

Here's the thing: Friendships are good for you. Sure, social media is a great way to keep in touch with old colleagues and friends who've moved away, but if you're spending more time on virtual friendships than you are with your real friends, you need to stop.

Social isolation isn't just depressing -- it's dangerous. A 2010 study found that being isolated can be as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Having meaningful relationships with friends, on the other hand, can help you live longer, and the more friends you have, the better. "There's been this notion that it's just those people who are 100% socially isolated who are at risk and that if you have one friend, you are OK. But this isn't the case," researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad told Forbes."People who have more, or more complex, social resources vs. people who have less, have higher rates of survival."

Friendships aren't just good for your physical health: "Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships," Rebecca G. Adams, sociology professor of the University of North Carolina told the New York Times. Facebook, on the other hand, can make you depressed, according to recent studies.

So it's time to schedule some face time with your ladies. Sure, a girls' night out is more work than spending an evening on Facebook in your sweats, but they -- and you -- are worth it.

WATCH: