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Health update: Internet use cuts senior depression

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One of the directives of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was to apportion $7 billion for the expansion of broadband Internet availability throughout the country. One demographic targeted in this effort to expand Internet use is seniors, for whom Internet use is proportionately low.

Recently, the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies attempted to determine the effect Internet use might have on the elderly population. The group studied 7,000 elderly retired persons to evaluate the effect of Internet use on mental health. The mental health of the subjects was measured using a depression scale developed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies.

Results concluded that Internet use contributes to mental well-being in seniors, and the Phoenix Center estimates that Internet use is responsible for a 20 percent reduction in depression among seniors. Because it is estimated that depression costs the nation approximately $100 billion annually, expanding the use of the Internet among seniors could have significant economic benefits.