Disease Prevention and Healthy AgeingHealth Trends

Study measures effectiveness of online communication tools in combatting depression among socially isolated seniors

When we grow old and retire from work, social isolation becomes a risk as friends and loved ones pass away or move to other locations. Sometimes, elders are simply left behind in a fast paced world. Socially isolated elders are at a risk of depression. Thankfully, there are different ways of maintaining contact with others, but are all methods the same?

A new study sought to find out which form of communication was most effective at preventing depression among the elderly. The researchers discovered that, of four online communication technologies (video chat, email, social networks and instant messaging), video chat appeared to hold the most promise in preventing depression.

Researchers said video chat’s appeal isn’t necessarily surprising since it engages users in face-to-face interactions rather than passively scrolling through texts mesages.Video chat also performed better than social media like Facebook. It is possible that video chat allows more natural interactions than is possible through other modalities.

So, before sending that phone text or social media message to your elderly parent or grand parent, consider that a video chat (such as through Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp) could possibly do more good. Elders should take note as well.

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