Scientists have found that regular internet use can reduce the dementia risk and healthy online engagement may help develop and maintain cognitive functions.
Regular internet users experienced approximately half the risk of dementia than non-regular users.
Being a regular internet user for longer periods in late adulthood was associated with delayed cognitive impairment, although further evidence is needed on potential adverse effects of excessive usage, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
For the study, investigators followed 18,154 dementia-free adults aged 50 to 64.9 years for a median of 7.9 years and a maximum of 17.1 years.
During follow-up, 4.68 per cent of participants were diagnosed with dementia.
Regular internet usage was associated with approximately half the risk of dementia compared with non-regular usage. This link was found regardless of educational attainment, race-ethnicity, sex, and generation.
"Online engagement may help to develop and maintain cognitive reserve, which can in turn compensate for brain aging and reduce the risk of dementia," said corresponding author Virginia W. Chang of New York University.
The association between time-to-dementia and baseline internet usage was examined using cause-specific Cox models, adjusting for delayed entry and covariates.
"We also examined the interaction between internet usage and education, race-ethnicity, sex, and generation. Furthermore, we examined whether the risk of dementia varies by the cumulative period of regular internet usage to see if starting or continuing usage in old age modulates subsequent risk. Finally, we examined the association between the risk of dementia and daily hours of usage," the study noted.
Little is known about the long-term cognitive impact of internet usage among older adults and this research characterised the association between various measures of internet usage and dementia.
(With inputs from IANS)