Think again. While our kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, etc., are all abuzz about this thing called social media, you might be thinking, “it’s not for me, I’m too old for that,” or “I don’t need that.”
Recent research on the use of social media from the University of Arizona provides a very good reason to think otherwise, and in fact, encourages embracing social media as part of your life. Why? Studies suggest that adults 65 and older who learn how and use Facebook are seeing a bump up in their cognitive function. That is, it’s helping improve your ability to remember, learn, reason, problem-solve, etc.
Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate student in the University of Arizona department of psychology, conducted research to see if teaching older adults to use Facebook could help improve their cognitive performance and make them feel more socially connected. Her research included using OASIS Connections curriculum for participants to learn how to use Facebook.
An article from the University’s news site states that “Her preliminary findings, which she shared at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting in Hawaii, show that older adults, after learning to use Facebook, performed about 25 percent 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 in the psychology world as ‘updating.’ ”
In addition to this brain health-related benefit of using Facebook, participants from OASIS Connections classes across the nation are enjoying the social media tool for things like sharing photos of grandchildren and family, and reconnecting with old friends. An immigrant from Nigeria living in New York, who was able to connect with family and friends back home, said that Facebook has “made her loneliness disappear.”
While social media isn’t a substitute for human interaction, it certainly provides another avenue for people to connect, and as this research points out, can improve cognitive function.
Facebook appears to be the most popular among adults in the over-40 age range, but there are other social media platforms out there – Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc. If you are already on social media or want to be, which platform do you prefer? Which one do you want to learn more about?