Seniors use of technology may decrease their mental age

Seniors use of technology may decrease their mental age

Getting grandma to learn how to text may be beneficial in more ways than one. A study published in Intelligence found that senior citizens that regularly used computers and mobile phones appeared cognitively younger than a similar population less than 10 years ago. 

Researchers collected data from approximately 2,000 people over the age of 50 in England and Germany in 2006, and collected additional data from approximately 3,000 people in the same demographic in 2012. They were examining what is known at the Flynn effect - a sustained increase in IQ that researchers believe occurs over a period of time due to improved access to better education, health care and nutrition. Quartz states that it's because of "(t)hese small but sustained improvements" people can "involve themselves in more mentally stimulating activities, improve their cognitive abilities, and thus score better on IQ tests." Due to IQ test limitations however, researchers chose to also look at a wider range of cognitive skills.

"In many cases 52-year-olds from 2006 had the same score as 60-year-olds from 2012,"  researcher Valeria Bordone of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis told Quartz. "The levels of education hadn't changed much among these two populations, but we could see that their use of computers and mobile phones had changed quite a bit."

Currently the study's results only show a correlations between the greater use of technology and increased mental abilities, but Bordone believes the use of technology is the key to this increased mental capacity due to the fact that it "creates rewarding, complex challenges that help boost cognitive skills."