Regular social media use can stave off depression among older users. According to a study by by Shelia Cotton, a sociologist at the University of Alabama, Internet and social media users over the age of 50 may reduce their chances of suffering from depression by one-third compared to those who do not participate in social media.
Cotton’s analysis include 8,000 men and women over the age of 50. The study conducted a survey distinguishing those who actively use the internet, and then evaluating participants for mental health issues.
The findings? Depression does increase with age, and affects around 13% of the population by age 85. But the participants who used Twitter and Facebook were one third less likely to develop systems of depression than those who don’t use social media.
Regular online activity can help to decrease social isolation, especially among those who may have impaired mobility to keep in contact with friends and family, and helps to expand social circles, according to Medical Daily. A separate University of California study showed that regular online use stimulates nerve-cell activity and may also assist in increasing brain function in older adults.
The majority (53%) of Americans 65 and older use the internet regularly, and 13% of US adults age 50+ are on Twitter, according to Pew Research Center. The University of Alabama study also showed that the main reason other adults are not participating in social media websites or using the internet in other ways is due to lack of knowledge of the Internet and/or access to the Internet.
The complete study will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.