A recent study conducted by University of Michigan Rackham student Shannon Ang has revealed that social media use among older adults can limit the effects of pain on depression.
Ang, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Institute for Social Research, was curious of the long-term consequences of online participation through social networking platforms. He was interested specifically in the elderly population because of the lack of studies related to the age group.
“I was interested in whether social media would be able to supplement the effects of people who are in pain or are physically limited,” Ang said.
Ang’s colleague on the study, Tuo-Yen Chen of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, was also interested in how social media could alter pain’s role in depression.
“Social media has not been considered as a potential intervention strategy,” Chen said. “So, Shannon and I were wondering whether utilizing social media could lessen depression among individuals with pain.”
With the onset of such discomfort among elderly individuals, social interactions outside of the household naturally become limited. Ang and Chen sought to study how those affected could potentially be influenced by virtual interaction through social media.
Before the study, Ang and Chen hypothesized that social media usage would be helpful in relieving depression amid pain and that people might already be using social media to supplement their own social networking.
The basis of Ang and Chen’s research emerged from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, a publicly available data set that gathers information from more than 8,000 senior citizen Medicare beneficiaries.
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