A new study from the University of Surrey has found that frequent internet use by older people during lockdown improved the quality of their mental health
Study participants aged between 55 to 75 presented a lower risk of depression and reported a higher quality of life when using the internet to stay in touch with friends and family during lockdown.
Researchers from the University of Surrey studied 3,491 individuals who were surveyed on the frequency and type of their internet usage – such as information searching or for communication purposes.
Those who reported using the internet once a day or more had much lower levels of depression symptoms and reported a higher quality of life compared to those who used the internet only once a week or less.
Using the internet for communication was particularly linked to these beneficial effects.
In contrast, the study also found that those who used the internet to search for health-related information reported higher levels of depression symptoms.
Dr Simon Evans, Lecturer in Neuroscience at the University of Surrey, said: “As social restrictions continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, older people are at greater risk of loneliness and mental health issues.
“We found that older adults who used the internet more frequently under lockdown, particularly to communicate with others, had lower depression scores and an enhanced quality of life.
“As the COVID-19 situation evolves, more frequent internet use could benefit the mental health of older people by reducing loneliness and risk of depression, particularly if further lockdowns are imposed in the future.”
The full study has been published in the journal Healthcare.
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