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Should grandma join Facebook? It may give her a cognitive boost, study finds
Date:2/21/2013

tween 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, versus if you're on Facebook, several people are posting new things, so new information is constantly getting posted," she said.

"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," she said.

Participants in the study, who had an average age of 79, represent a demographic whose social media behavior has not been closely examined.

"Facebook is obviously a huge phenomenon in our culture," Wohltmann said. "There's starting to be more research coming out about how younger adults use Facebook and online social networking, but we really don't know very much at all about older adults, and they actually are quite a large growing demographic on Facebook, so I think it's really important to do the research to find out."

One in three online seniors use a social networking site like Facebook, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Wohltmann says she also sees Facebook as a potential alternative to some online games marketed to seniors 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," she said, adding that it can also help older adults stay connected with grandchildren and other family and friends.

Yet, Wohltmann cautions it may not be for everyone.

"One of the take-home messages could be that learning how to use Facebook is a way to build what we call cognitive reserve, to help protect against and stave off cognitive decline due to normal age-related changes in brain function. But there certainly are other ways to do this as well,"
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Contact: Janelle Wohltmann
jjw@email.arizona.edu
520-621-5721
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert

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