Skip to main content

See also:

Research finds social media networks improve health in the elderly

Typing on a social media network does an elderly person's health good
Typing on a social media network does an elderly person's health good
gagilas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Flickr

Can social media networks improve the health of its elderly users? A recent press release by the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests the answer is ‘yes.’ In the May 28 press release, the APA cites many research studies that have linked positive social communications with improved physical health in older people – and these findings can be generalized to interactions on social media networks.

It is important to note that the studies indicate a requirement of these online communications being primarily positive. With many older people finding themselves homebound due to illness, mobility issues or small social circles in real life, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter could benefit elderly people by providing them with social interactions. And, these communications have potential to increase lung health, at least according to one study.

This study, cited in the press release, is titled “Social Integration and Pulmonary Function in the Elderly.” It found that having a range of social roles per person links with good lung function. These roles for older adults could be as a parent, employee and volunteer. Applying the findings to social media networks, a person can easily become a friend on Facebook to people around the world, satisfying the friendship role.

Other cited studies in the APA document similarly highlight the importance of social interactions being positive in order to improve physical health of the elderly. Negative interactions, meanwhile, can link with increases in hypertension and harmful coping methods such as drinking alcohol. This conclusion is as per findings from the “Negative Social Interactions and Incidental Hypertension Among Older Adults” study.

Research, therefore, suggests the positive effects of improved health for the elderly when they regularly have social interactions, which includes being active on social media networks. Given potential benefits such as a decrease in hypertension and better lung health, this certainly is encouragement for older people to open accounts on Twitter and other popular networks. While many people criticize social media for reducing the quality and amount of in-person interactions, the recent studies do set out the advantages for the elderly of using social media networks.