Some of us have noted that more and more seniors and not-so-seniors are “early adapters,” turning to the Internet for support and social interaction. Now Harvard and others are studying the phenomenon. 

Read all about it in the Technology section of today’s New York Times: 

Online, ‘a Reason to Keep on Going’

Like many older people, Paula Rice of Island City, Ky., has grown isolated in recent years. Her four grown children live in other states, her two marriages ended in divorce, and her friends are scattered. Most days, she does not see another person.

But Ms. Rice, 73, is far from lonely. Housebound after suffering a heart attack two years ago, she began visiting the social networking sites, an online community for aging baby boomers, and (she is a former police dispatcher). Now she spends up to 14 hours a day in online conversations.

“I was dying of boredom,” she said. “Eons, all by its lonesome, gave me a reason to keep on going.”

That more and more people in Ms. Rice’s generation are joining networks like Eons, Facebook and MySpace is hardly news. Among older people who went online last year, the number visiting social networks grew almost twice as fast as the overall rate of Internet use among that group, according to the media measurement company comScore. But now researchers who focus on aging are studying the phenomenon to see whether the networks can provide some of the benefits of a group of friends, while being much easier to assemble and maintain.

Read more…


Don't miss "At Card Table, Clues to a Lucid Old Age"in today's New York Times:

The story reveals new information from research on 90-somethings, especially those who have no signs of dementia. Of course, we'll all be in that pool, right?

Two factors keep showing up as important, if you want to keep those brain cells accessible. One is regular social interaction with friends or family, and the other is the use of grey matter. Wonder if today's young seniors, like us, will benefit from the use of the Internet, which provides both mental stimulation and a virtual social life? Would make an interesting doctoral dissertation, but the candidate might have to wait 20-30 years for the degree.