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The internet 'helps old people beat isolation'

Dec 17th 2008, 00:00 by Daniel King

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The internet is becoming increasingly popular with the older generation, it has been claimed.

According to Monica Evans from Age Concern, the web offers many the chance to make decisions for themselves and allows them to take their time when selecting products or services.

She said: "For many older people, having the opportunity to make decisions for themselves and take their time in selecting alternatives is always an attractive option."

The ease of booking online is particularly relevant to those with restricted access to transport or who find it difficult to get around.

She noted that it also provides them with the chance to "enjoy life and beat isolation".

Through chat rooms and email, silver surfers can connect with others and exchange ideas and encouragement.

Ms Evans commented: "Many older users say the internet has changed their lives for the better and the annual Silver Surfer awards bear testimony to the enjoyment and learning older people can derive from technology, especially the internet."

A study by the University of California in October 2008 found that key centres of the brain related to control, decision-making and complex reasoning in "computer-savvy" middle-aged and older adults are triggered by searching the internet.

It revealed that browsing the internet engages complicated brain activity, which could in turn exercise and improve brain function.

Searching the internet was found to engage a greater level of neural circuitry than reading.

However, this was limited to those who have not surfed the internet much before rather than regular users.

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