Study Finds That Social Media Use Benefits Both Physical and Mental Health of the Elderly

A recent study conducted in the UK and Italy seems to show that the use of social media may actually be beneficial to the overall health of elderly people.

The 2-year study followed 120 elderly people from the south west of England and the Marche region of central Italy, two regions known for inheriting a long-living population.

The study followed two groups: one with exposure to social media outlets such as e-mail, Skype and Facebook, and one without exposure to these outlets (the control group).

After several years, researchers found that those who integrated social media into their lives felt less isolated and more equipped to navigate through their daily lives.

Compared to the control group, elderly people who were active on social media reported feeling happier and more in-touch with the general public. These results were due in part to the fact that social media provided these people with the opportunity to connect with family and friends, as well as other people with shared interests.

More importantly, the study found that older people who were familiar with social media and used it regularly reported feeling healthier both physically and mentally, and even performed better in tests that gauge cognitive capacity.

Senior citizens attend a class that teaches the basics of social media (Image credit: The Atlantic)

Senior citizens attend a class that teaches the basics of social media (Image credit: The Atlantic)

Thomas Morton, a researcher from the psychology department at Exeter University, led the study in the UK. He says,

“Human beings are social animals, and it’s no surprise that we tend to do better when we have the capacity to connect with others. But what can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health.”

 

Many participants from the study have been voicing their transformations to the British media. The majority of participants report feeling happier and healthier, and some have even reported losing weight and having more energy throughout the day.

In the coming decades, the elderly population is expected to increase significantly, both in the United States and in Europe.

Social media provides elderly people with a voice, giving them a chance to speak out and re-engage in a social world that they are often cut off from as they grow older.

The findings of this study reinforce the value of social media to the elderly, and may influence more older people to start using social media as a tool to improve their mental, physically and emotional well-being.

Read the original story from The Guardian.

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