Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
Surprised to see your grandparents making friends on Facebook, chatting online or using instant messaging services on smartphones? If yes, take heart, as indulging in social media could reduce loneliness as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes in older adults.
It is because, social media technology like emails, Twitter, Skype has the potential to cultivate successful relationships among older adults, the researchers said. ‘Each of the links between social technology use and physical and psychological health was mediated by reduced loneliness,’ said William Chopik, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, in the US.
The study also found that participants active on social media platforms were generally more satisfied with life and had fewer depressive symptoms as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. More than 95 per cent of the elderly participants in the study, said they were either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ satisfied with technology, while 72 per cent said they were not opposed to learning new technologies.
‘Older adults think the benefits of social technology greatly outweigh the costs and challenges of technology,’ Chopik added. Previous research on technology use across the life span had focused on the digital divide — or the disparities between younger and older adults — painting a rather bleak picture of seniors’ ability and motivation to adapt to a changing technological landscape.
However, the new study challenge this interpretation. ‘Despite the attention that the digital divide has garnered in recent years, a large proportion of older adults use technology to maintain their social networks and make their lives easier,’ Chopik said, adding, ‘in fact, there may be portions of the older population that use technology as often as younger adults.’ For the study, the team examined the benefits of using technology for social connection among older adults in 591 participants with an average age of 68.