Should Grandma Join Facebook?

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Preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona suggest that women and men over the age of 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function. Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate pupil in the UA section of psychology, an attempt to see whether old teaching adults to use the favorite cultural networking site could help enhance their cognitive performance and make sure they are feeling more socially connected.

Wohltmann, whose intensive research is ongoing as part of her dissertation work, facilitated Facebook training for 14 old adults who acquired either never used the website or used it significantly less than monthly. These were instructed to get Facebook friends only with those in their training group and were asked to post on the webpage at least once each day.

They were asked to make at least one access a day, of no more than three to five phrases to emulate the shortness of communications that Facebook users typically post. The study’s third band of 14 was informed they were on the “wait-list” for Facebook training, which they never completed actually. In the follow-ups, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25 % much better than they did in the beginning of the study on tasks made to measure their mental updating abilities.

Participants in the other groups noticed no significant change in performance. Wohltmann conducted the analysis with help from her research adviser Betty Glisky, mind, and professor of the division of mindset, and a united team of undergraduate and graduate research assistants. It was predicated on existing evidence about how exactly learning new tasks can help older adults with overall cognitive function, as well as research suggesting a possible link between social connectedness and cognitive performance. In Wohltmann’s research, further evaluation is required to determine whether using Facebook made participants feel less depressed or more socially connected, she said. Likewise, further analysis is required to determine whether, or by how much, Facebook’s interpersonal aspect added to improvements in cognitive performance.

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However, Wohltmann suspects that the complicated nature of the Facebook user interface, compared to the online journal site, was generally responsible for Facebook users’ improved performance. Participants in the scholarly study, who had an average age group of 79, represent a demographic whose sociable mass media behavior has not been analyzed closely. One in three online seniors use a social networking site like Facebook, based on the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Wohltmann says she also views Facebook as a potential alternative to some online games marketed to elderly people to help enhance mental acuity. Yet, Wohltmann cautions it might not be for everyone.

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