Researchers Find Less Dementia Among Regular Internet Users

More study is needed, experts say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2023 4:55 PM CDT
Researchers Find Less Dementia Among Regular Internet Users
   (Getty: AndreyPopov)

A new study suggests a mental health benefit of internet use for older people. The research, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which followed 18,154 adults ages 50 to 65 over eight years, found that those who regularly spent time online were less likely to develop dementia. In fact, the risk was about twice as high for those who spent no time on the internet, CNN reports. The reasons aren't clear, because the causes of dementia aren't known. "Online engagement may help to develop and maintain cognitive reserve, which can in turn compensate for brain aging and reduce the risk of dementia," said Dr. Virginia Chang, a coauthor of the study.

None of the subjects had dementia at the beginning of the study. They were asked if they regularly use the Internet for purposes such as emailing or making purchases. The lowest dementia risk was among those who spent two hours or less online, but authors said that finding wasn't statistically significant. More work needs to be done, they said, to learn whether too much time online can hurt. This sort of study can't determine cause and effect, said an Alzheimer’s Association official, per USA Today. Still, Claire Sexton said, "This is important research, as it identifies a potentially modifiable factor that may influence dementia risk." (More dementia stories.)

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