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Elderly People Who use Internet Are Less Likely to Get Depressed.

Update Date: Jul 16, 2012 09:31 AM EDT

Although internet usage and social networking sites have been associated with youngsters for all the wrong reasons, a latest study says that it might not be the case with older people.

Social networking sites are known to cause depression, loss of confidence and isolation in youngsters. But according to the latest research, which is based on a survey of almost 8,000 men and women aged over 50, the elderly are less likely to be diagnosed with depression compared with non-users.

While it is a common knowledge that many a people often get into depression with progressing age, a research by a team from University of Illinois found the incidence of depression was at its lowest around the age of 45, and highest among the over-80s, according to Mail Online.

It seems, the reasons why older people are prone to depression are loneliness, social isolation and lack of emotional support.

The latest study, the biggest so far in assessing the health effects of internet use on older people, participants were asked if they were regular users of the internet and were assessed for their mental health.

'Our findings suggest that internet use has a positive effect on depression,' Dr Shelia Cotten, who led the research at the University of Alabama and other centers, was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

There has been a drastic increase in the number of old people hitting the internet. According to the latest statistics from the Pew Research Centre, a US think-tank, a third of people over-65 years are on social-networking sites, while there used to only six per cent of them three years ago.

According to Pew Research, the reason the internet helps older adults is because of the fact that many an elderly people, who cannot even perhaps move around are able to keep in touch with friends and family via networking sites, and that obviously comes as a big relief to them.

Another study at the University of California noted brain changes people, a week after using the internet for the first time.

 'The internet provides an important tool for the rapidly increasing older population to lead independent lives, to keep in touch with friends and family and to make informed decisions on many issues from health to travel," Nichola Adams, whose research at the University of Surrey has looked at barriers to accessing the internet among older people said.

"The major reasons for not using the internet were found to be lack of knowledge or access. Our own research has shown that once the initial practical issues have been overcome, there were still psychological barriers. Social and work networks are important to uptake and older users need back-up to overcome apprehension at the beginning," Adams added.

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