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Twitter Can Prevent Depression in Old Folks

older couple on computer laptop

The Internet Makes This Couple Happy

“What are you doing on the computer?” my mom asked. She had been staying with us for a week and was hovering while I was tweeting.

“I’m on Twitter,” I told her.

“What’s the point of it anyway?” she asked rhetorically.

I tried to explain how I use Twitter to forge relationships, keep up-to-date on current events, and for entertainment. Her response? “What’s the world coming to with all this twittering and texting?”

I told her the correct word is “tweeting” and she scoffed. In other words, it’s unlikely she’ll be joining Twitter or Facebook anytime soon.

It’s too bad because recent research suggests that people over 50 who are on Twitter are less likely to develop depression, according to AllTwitter.

The University of Alabama study surveyed 8,000 men and women in the over-50 age group about online habits. After responding to questions about how the used the internet and social networks, the participants were then evaluated for symptoms of depression.

The participants were first asked several questions about whether they use the internet and social networks, and were then evaluated for mental illness and depression.

The study found that older people who were on social networks like Twitter and Facebook were one third less likely to develop symptoms of depression than those who don’t use social media.

Previous studies have shown that internet usage could boost brain functioning in older adults. Social networking also provides stimulation and communication for older adults who are not mobile. It’s a great way to see pictures of grandchildren or stay in touch with far-flung friends and relatives.

“Our findings suggest that Internet use has a positive effect on depression,” said sociologist Dr. Shelia Cotten, who led the research at the University of Alabama and other centers, according to The Daily Mail.

According to Pew Research Center, about 1/3 of people over 65 are using social networking (and more than 1/2 are online), compared to only 6% three years ago. My mom might not be on Twitter or Facebook, but she’s sure addicted to doing crossword puzzles on her iPad.

Are your parents or grandparents on Twitter?

Photo: Shutterstock.com/Portrait of an elderly woman and man using a computer

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