Facebook Might Be the Key to Keeping Your Brain Young
As harmful as social media can be for most of our brains, neuroscientists have recently discovered an arguably adorable exception: When old people use the internet, it may lower their risk of dementia.
Their study tracked more than 18,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 64.9 (who obviously didn’t have dementia and fell just short of 65) for anywhere between eight and 17 years — or until they were around the age where they had to seek out a grandchild to turn on their computer. Overall, only 4.68 percent of the participants were eventually diagnosed with dementia. That said, regular internet usage cut their risk of dementia in half compared to those who didn’t use the internet.
“Online engagement may help to develop and maintain cognitive reserve, which can, in turn, compensate for brain aging and reduce the risk of dementia,” study co-author Virginia W. Chang concluded.
Given how much social media has impaired the ability to produce dopamine for most of us, the findings come as quite a surprise. Sure, this doesn’t make up for the countless problems social media and the internet in general have created, but if it can protect a few older brains, it’s at least a start toward redemption — awful Boomer-generated memes notwithstanding.