Teaching mom and dad to use Facebook and Instagram may make you want to yank out your hair, but it could help keep parents mentally fit as they age, according to new research out of Austria. People over the age of 50 scored better on cognition tests in 2012 than similarly aged people just six years earlier, Quartz reports. Researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis think the credit for that improvement—in general, 2012 scores were comparable to the scores of someone four to eight years younger in 2006—can perhaps go to seniors' increasing use of cellphones and computers over the past decade. "Although experts have previously worried that technology was causing people to stop thinking, in fact, it appears that the mental skills needed to operate increasingly complex gadgets are making people smarter," the Telegraph states.
"Life has become cognitively more demanding, with increasing use of communication and information technology also by older people," researcher Dr. Nadia Steiber says. For example, computer programs regularly require decision-making skills, and the average person must remember 10 passwords just to go about his or her daily life, the Telegraph reports. Basically, researchers believe modern technology is forcing middle-aged brains to stay on their game. But it's not all good news: The increasing use of computers and cellphones is also corresponding with rising obesity and dropping physical activity levels. (Regardless, maybe it's time seniors start taking iPads away from toddlers.)