Can the Internet improve personal well-being?

Can the Internet improve personal well-being?

How old people can spend their lives happily has become a social issue of common concern. When people are getting old, they gradually lose the ability to physical activities and the thinking process. Old people would therefore easily be isolated from society. There are also problems if we start too late to learn new things in the old age, for example, the technology, even though it will bring benefits to them.

In 2008, Mellor and the colleagues in Australia jointly conducted a research project to explore the potential of the Internet on whether it could reduce social isolation of the elderly, and hence to their psychosocial functioning. The project investigated 20 residents of a retirement village that these residents were able to access and to be trained in the use of computers and the Internet.  The results found that, after 3 months, they had little changes in self-esteem, positive affect, personal well-being, optimism and social connectedness. However, they reported that they gained benefits in the process. The impacts of the Internet to the elderly well-being were not confirmed yet in this study, through the analysis of the psychometric measures.
Perhaps the elderly’s well-being is much more complicated. We should explore more to understand the need of the elderly and to see if using the Internet can satisfy their needs. There are also a lot of technical know-hows in using the Internet. Therefore, both technical and social support seems important. Or else, too many difficulties while using the Internet can hinder its benefits. We still believe that increased channels of communication through the Internet can enhance the interaction with others, so as to gain more social support and finally achieve a positive life. Maybe, there should be a better understanding of the process in using the Internet and there should be a better understanding of the self-restraint and control of the elderly in order to use the Internet well.

Tags: elderly, computer use, Internet use, boredom, self-esteem, optimism, positive affect, personal well-being, social connectedness

Reference:

Mellor, D., Firth, L., & Moore, K. Can the Internet Improve the Well-being Of the Elderly. Ageing International. 2008, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p25-42.

The Effects of Technology on Well-being

Editor

Will Wai Kit Ma, PhD

Editorial Committee

Ho Ying Kit, Wong Choi Ha Rita, Cheung Ho Yee Jasmine

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