Forget crossword puzzles and scrabble, the way to keep your brain sharp into old age is to get on Facebook, new research suggests.
Research shows that over 65-year-olds could benefit from learning how to use social networking sites
Scientists from the University of Arizona have found that over 65s who use the social networking website performed better in cognitive tests than those who simply surfed the internet or didn't use it all.
It's thought the ever-changing nature of the site - such as the constantly rolling updates - may boost mental acuity.
Adults who used the site performed about 25 per cent better on tasks designed to measure their ability to continuously monitor and to quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory – a function known as 'updating'.During the study, 14 adults between 68 and 91 who had either never used the site or used it less than once a month were set up on Facebook.
They were instructed to make 'friends' with those in their training group and were asked to post on the site at least once a day.A second group were taught to use online diary site, Penzu.com, in which entries are kept private, with no social sharing component. Before the tests, participants completed a series of tests which assessed their levels loneliness and social support, as well as their cognitive abilities.
The assessments were done again at the end of the study, eight weeks later.In the follow-ups, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25 per cent better than they did at the start of the study on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities.
Participants in the other group saw no significant change in performance.
Posting updates on Facebook may improve the cognitive performance of older adults
Lead researcher Janelle Wohltmann, from the University of Arizona department of psychology, said: 'The big difference between the online diary and Facebook is that when you create a diary entry, you create the entry, you save it and that's all you see.'[Whereas] if you're on Facebook, several people are posting new things, so new information is constantly getting posted.'You're seeing this new information coming in, and you need to focus on the new information and get rid of the old information, or keep it in mind if you want to go back and reference it later, so you have to constantly update what's there in your attention.'The researchers said they also see Facebook as a potential alternative to some online games marketed to older people to help boost mental acuity.'Those games can boring after a while, and this might be a new activity for people to learn that's more interesting and keeps them socially engaged,' said Wohltman. She added that those considering teaching their elderly relatives how to use the social networking site, should also consider their safety.'It's also important to understand and know about some of the aspects of Facebook that people have concerns about, like how to keep your profile secure,' she said.
'So I wouldn't suggest to anyone to get out and get Granny online right away, unless you or somebody else can provide the proper education and support to that person, so that they can use it in a safe way.'
- 2013/02/21(木) 09:51:55|