Does Facebook Improve Memory for Older Adults?

Computer Training May Improve Memory of Seniors. Jack Hollingsworth DigitalVision/ Getty Images

How many older adults do you know who regularly use a computer? How about those who use social media on their phones?

While the use of technology by people over the age of 60 is steadily increasing, there are still many who don't participate- either by choice or lack of opportunity. Are they missing out on any potential benefits?

These are a few of the questions behind a study conducted in the United Kingdom.through the University of Exeter.

The Study

This study identified older adults between the ages of 60-95 who had little or no experience with using computers and social media. The initial sample size consisted of 76 persons, some of whom lived in their own home and others who lived in a facility. Approximately half of the participants were randomly assigned to a group who received 3 months of computer training, including the use of social media such as facebook, while the other half received care as usual.

The Results

After the study was completed and the results were statistically quantified, the researchers found that the cognitive ability of the group that received the computer training had improved over time, while there was no improvement in those without the training. The cognitive assessment included the areas of memory, verbal fluency, orientation, attention, visuo-spatial abilities and language.

The study also noted some improvement in the mental health and overall sense of well-being for those in the training group.


Previous research has shown cognitive benefits from brain training programs, the development of cognitive reserve, mental activity and social interaction. This study appears to reinforce these ideas by demonstrating that training in the use of computers may facilitate improved cognitive and emotional/mental health.

It should be noted, however, that due caution must be taken against risks such as increased vulnerability to online predators.

Finally, while this study does present the fascinating possibility of improved cognition through computer usage and social media, it must be replicated for us to be able to draw solid conclusions and understand how best to recommend changes in this area.


Ages 2.0. Activating and Guiding the Engagement of Seniors through Social Media. Final Report. Accessed February 24, 2015.

Ages 2.0. What is Ages 2.0? Accessed February 24, 2015.

University of Exeter. Training elderly in social media improves well-being and combats isolation. 12 December 2014.

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