If you’re a senior citizen, there’s a good chance that some of your friends are online. And if they’re not, then they’re probably on their phones or tablets. But what is the impact of this constant use on an older person? There are many factors to consider when discussing how technology can negatively affect senior’s mental health- including depression and isolation. This article will explore these topics in depth as well as offer solutions for those who need to find balance with their tech usage.
Studies show that technology (specifically social media) may contribute to depression and isolation in older adults.
One study found that people who spend a significant amount of time online were more likely to have mental health concerns than those who spent less time using social media.
Another found that the more time seniors spend on Facebook, the less satisfied they are with their lives and the more depressed they feel. This is supported by other studies relating to social media use as well. These studies suggest that if you’re an older adult who frequently uses social media, you may be at risk of developing depression and/or feelings of isolation.
Another aspect to consider is how social media negatively affects our sense of identity as we age. Our identities shift over the course of a lifetime, but it is quite different for seniors than younger generations. One study interviewed many elderly women who reported “feeling lost” because they didn’t know how to use various different technologies and social media platforms. This made them feel disconnected from their children, grandchildren, and friends.
If you use technology and/or social media frequently, you can try finding a middle ground that allows you to enjoy using your devices without feeling the need to constantly check in. Here are some ways to do so.
- Turn off your devices at certain times of the day (such as one hour before bed, for example).
- Find balance is by putting limitations on yourself regarding how much time you spend online- and then sticking to them.
- Try meditative activities such as yoga or painting are good ways to clear your head from all the information you receive throughout the day.
Seek Out Help if You are Experiencing Feelings of Isolation and/or Depression
If you notice a significant change in mood when you spend more time online, consider reaching out to a licensed professional such as a clinical social worker or psychologist.