Older Americans Who Use The Internet Less Likely To Be Depressed
Older Americans who regularly spend time online are significantly less likely to develop or suffer from depression compared to their peers that did not use the internet, according to a new study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.
Before you start proclaiming the health benefits of the web, lead author of the study Shelia Cotten clarified, “the largest impacts on depression were actually for those people who lived alone, so it’s really suggesting that it’s about connecting with others, eliminating isolation, and loneliness.”
Depression affects close to eight percent of Americans over the age of 50, which could add up to over 5 million people struggling with the illness. Older adults are also much more likely to experience depression, loneliness, and social isolation than younger people, Cotten told Reuters Health.
Cotten and her team evaluated data gathered by the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey over six years. The Health and Retirement survey was a large population study focused on the transitions older Americans go through as they retire, and included 3,075 retired men and women who didn’t live in nursing homes.
Approximately 30 percent of the participants used the Internet, and the researchers observed those who used the internet had a 33 percent lower probability of depression compared to those who remained offline.
The study didn’t examine exactly how much people used the Internet or the specifics of their internet use, but previous studies have suggested that older adults are mostly interested in communicating with their family and friends, mostly through email.