Using video chatting platforms like Skype to connect with friends and family can stave off depression in older adults, a study found.
Researchers compared four different types of online communication technologies - video chat, e-mail, social networks, and instant messaging - used by people of 60 years and above, and then gauged their symptoms of depression based on the survey responses, two years later.
Video chat came out as the undisputed champion: Researcher
"Video chat came out as the undisputed champion," said Professor Alan Teo, lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. "Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had a significantly lower risk of depression," he said.
Over 1,400 participants were involved in the survey
Researchers identified 1,424 participants from a 2012 survey who completed a set of questions about technology use.
These same participants also responded to a follow-up survey two years later that measured, among other things, depressive symptoms.
Those who used e-mail, instant messaging or social media had virtually the same rate of depressive symptoms as compared to older adults who didn't use any communication technologies.
'It's the first study to show link between video-chat, depression'
In contrast, researchers found that people who used video chat had almost half the estimated probability of depressive symptoms, after adjusting factors like pre-existing depression and level of education.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a potential link between the use of video chat and prevention of clinically significant symptoms of depression over two years in older adults," researchers said.