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Internet use cuts depression

April 16, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Older adults who use the Internet can reduce their chances of depression, especially seniors who live alone, according to a study published in the latest issue of Journals of Gerontology.

For this study, Dr. George S. Ford, chief economist at the Washington, D.C.-based Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, along with Dr. Shelia Cotten (Michigan State University), Dr. Sherry Ford (University of Montevallo) and Dr. Timothy Hale (Harvard University), analyzed data from four segments of the Health and Retirement Survey conducted between 2002 and 2008, yielding a total of 12,300 observations among more than 3,000 older, retired adults.

Researchers found that Internet use among senior citizens reduced the probability of depression by 33 percent.

"This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness," the researchers concluded. "Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation and depression."

Ford added, "Expanded broadband use by older Americans appears to have significant benefits. The positive mental health consequences of Internet use demonstrate, in part, the value of broadband demand stimulus programs aimed at older Americans."