Studies have shown that people who use social networking sites are less likely to be depressed
There have been numerous studies showing that having a good social life helps ward off depression. Now, a new study has found that for the over-50s at least, regularly visiting social networking sites also help prevent symptoms of depression. The number of social networking sites online has ballooned in the last decade and some sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have seen dramatic increases in uptake.
Researchers from the University of Alabama looked at data from nearly 8,000 men and women, all of whom were over 50, and asked them about their internet habits. Later, the same study participants were tested for mental illness. The results revealed that men and women who regularly used social networking sites were a third less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who did not. The findings do not, however, prove a cause and effect. It may be that individuals who are more emotionally upbeat are more likely to seek out interactions via online sites and, conversely, that people who suffer with depressive symptoms or are prone to depression avoid this kind of social contact.
According to research company Nielsen, the over-50s age group has shown the most dramatic increase in social networking use. Between 2009 and 2011, Facebook use grew at a rate of around 40% in the general population; for those aged over 50, the figure was 84%. Twitter has also shown more growth in the older population, comparatively.
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