Some would call Facebook one of the most distracting things currently in existence as people spend hours upon hours visiting it. These same people may also say that it serves little purpose, because of all that time it takes away from other endeavors, but some would argue against that. Researchers at the University of Arizona have recently completed a study that suggests Facebook can actually be used as a tool to build the cognitive reserve of the elderly.
The study used three groups of fourteen senior citizens, each, between 68 and 91 years old, with an average age of 79. One group was taught how to use Facebook, friended those within the group, and were instructed to post something at least once a day. The second group was given similar instructions but instead of Facebook they were taught to use Penzu.com, an online diary, which is private. The third group was told they were on a wait-list for Facebook training. Before the study began and again after it ended eight weeks later, the participants were given tests to measure their cognitive abilities and those in the Facebook group performed 25% better than when the study started. The other groups did not change.
The researchers believe this increase is because of the complex interface and social nature of Facebook. Together these characteristics keep Facebook interesting and engage the minds of its users, which should help prevent cognitive decline due to age.
Source: University of Arizona