New York, April 18 IANS | 8 months ago

Are you in your 60s and surf internet for better vacation deals or finding old friends on social networks? Keep surfing as research reveals that internet use among the elderly can reduce the chances of depression by more than 30 percent.

"That is a very strong effect. And it all has to do with older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks, and just not feel lonely," said Shelia Cotten, a Michigan State University professor of telecommunication, information studies and media.

To reach this conclusion, Cotten and her colleagues analysed the data from more than 22,000 older Americans every two years - one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of its kind.

The researchers wanted to know if past depression affected current depression.

What they found is yes, some people did remain depressed despite internet use, although it was not substantial.

"Internet use continues to reduce depression, even when controlling for that prior depressive state," Cotten noted.

The researchers also confirmed what was found in other studies that for older people who live alone, Internet use had a greater impact on their levels of depression.

"This study makes significant contributions to the study of internet use and depression in the older, retired population," Cotten added.

If you sit in front of a computer all day, ignoring the roles you have in life and the things you need to accomplish as part of your daily life, then it is going to have a negative impact on you.

But if you are using it in moderation and you are doing things that enhance your life, then the impacts are likely to be positive in terms of health and well-being, cotton emphasised.

The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

(Posted on 18-04-2014)

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