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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Sep;19(9):551-6. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0151. Epub 2016 Aug 19.

The Benefits of Social Technology Use Among Older Adults Are Mediated by Reduced Loneliness.

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Department of Psychology, Michigan State University , East Lansing, Michigan.


Technology has the ability to enhance and enrich the lives of older adults by facilitating better interpersonal relationships. However, few studies have directly examined associations between technology use for social reasons and physical and psychological health among older adults. The current study examines the benefits of technology use in 591 older adults from the 2012 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (Mage = 68.18, SD = 10.75; 55.5% female). Social technology use was assessed through five technology-based behaviors (i.e., using e-mail, social networking sites, online video/phone calls, online chatting/instant messaging, using a smartphone). Attitudes toward the usability and benefits of technology use were also assessed. Older adults had generally positive attitudes toward technology. Higher social technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic illnesses, higher subjective well-being, and fewer depressive symptoms. Furthermore, each of the links between social technology use and physical and psychological health was mediated by reduced loneliness. Close relationships are a large determinant of physical health and well-being, and technology has the potential to cultivate successful relationships among older adults.

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