Using the internet may lower the risk of depression for retired people, according to a new study from the United States.1
The research was produced by a group of US universities, and surveyed more than 3,000 pensioners. This found that being in a "depressed state" was common amongst pensioners, and that many were in this state for multiple periods during the research. It also found that pensioners who used the internet were 33% less likely to experience that "depressed state" than those who didn't.
These results were particularly relevant to those amongst the study who lived alone, possibly because internet use helped reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, as the study did not use a clinical definition of depression, some of the results reflected low moods, rather than clinical depression.
The study did lack in some detail as it did not examine the lifestyle and health of participants, or monitor what purpose the internet is used for amongst the group. This means that there were potentially other factors which influenced the "depressed state" of many participants.
However, if internet use can make elderly people feel more connected to their friends and family, then that's a positive choice that's worth considering.
1 Cotten SR, Ford G, Ford S, Hale TM. Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis. The Journals of Gerontology - Series B. Published online March 26 2014