Social media could help improve quality of life for elderly Australians
However new research has found that digital relationships might actually have the opposite effect when it comes to some of society's most vulnerable – namely Australia's elderly population.
Melbourne University's Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society released the results of a study last month which saw them provide people aged 80 and 90 with an iPad app which allowed them to communicate online, share photos and create original content.
"By creating and sharing content, the older people in our study were able to build social connections in order to help alleviate their experience of social isolation," reads the whitepaper, titled Mobile and broadband technologies for ameliorating social isolation in older people.
"Overall, the results of the trial were very positive. For the older people in our study, the ability to record and share photographs and messages had a positive effect on participants’ wellbeing and played a role in alleviating feelings of social isolation."
While most social media sharing occurs between people who already know each other, this study allowed elderly people to create new friendships by communicating with people they had not met before.
That's an important factor when you consider how often older people find themselves socially isolated, with health problems and frailty limiting the amount of face-to-face social interaction they can have.
According to Melbourne University, 13 per cent of Australia's population in 2010 was over the age of 65 years, and this number is predicted to rise to around 20 per cent by 2050, so coming up with innovative ways to improve the quality of living for our elders is now a more important issue than ever.
Posted by Zak Wash