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Facebook and YouTube help the old stay young

A group of scientists in Italy have found that social networking sites and the internet can help pensioners keep their brains active and fight off memo...

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|Apr 19|magazine6 min read

A group of scientists in Italy have found that social networking sites and the internet can help pensioners keep their brains active and fight off memory loss.

A study found that people who use Facebook, YouTube and Skype have more flexible brains than those who don’t.

It was also discovered that general internet use can help the older generations to develop their social skills and reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.

As part of the study residents of two care homes in Northern Italy were given laptops along with a tutorial in how to use the internet.

They were also given help in setting up their own personal accounts on Skype, Twitter and Facebook.

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Researchers found that after the study the pensioners who got to grips with modern technology had a much better memory and were more alert than those who didn’t the use the internet at all.

Marco Trabucchi, chairman of the Italian Association of Psychogeriatrics, which carried out the study, said: “Social networks and IT technology keep the cultural curiosity of the elderly alive.”

“It improves their cognitive performance and keeps their brains young; it stimulates their attention span, memory and perception. It keeps them young at heart.”

Currently, more than one-and-a-half million elderly people frequently use Skype to stay in touch with family and friends and have a profile on Facebook.

Mr Trabucchi also commented “Facebook is a window to the world for our elderly residents. It allows them to keep contact with younger members of their family.”

“Over the past few years the number of pensioners going online and using social networks has increased by 80 per cent,” he added.

“About 8 per cent of people who have a profile on Facebook and MySpace are pensioners.”