Internet Surfing, Digital Literacy Can Boost Memory: Study

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By Smitha Nambiar | August 15, 2014 1:03 PM EST

Digital literacy, which includes activities such as Internet or web browsing, and emailing, can improve memory, revealed a study conducted by researchers at the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina in Brazil.

Reuters
A man plays a computer game at an internet cafe in Beijing May 9, 2014. As growing numbers of young people in China immerse themselves in the cyber world, spending hours playing games online, worried parents are increasingly turning to boot camps to crush addiction. Military-style boot camps, designed to wean young people off their addiction to the internet, number as many as 250 in China alone. Picture taken May 9, 2014.

Digital literacy, or the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and carry out digital action such as sending emails and browsing the Internet, can help lower brain aging and dementia or memory loss in later years. Brazilian researchers, led by Andre Junqueira Xavier at the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina in Brazil found that digital literacy is associated with reduction in cognitive decline. 

The findings, drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, studied 6,400 British adults between the age group of 50 and 89 for eight years and found that "digital literacy increases brain and cognitive reserve or leads to the employment of more efficient cognitive networks to delay cognitive decline."

The participants' memory was tested for delayed recall from a 10-word-list learning task. The aim was to establish a link between Internet and email use, and delayed memory recall. The study revealed that good education, better financial status and digital literacy improved delayed recall. It was also found that people suffering from illnesses or conditions such as depression, diabetes, hearing impairment and cardiovascular diseases, or no digital literacy demonstrated decline.

It was hence concluded that older people who use digital technology are likely to have better memory recall than those who do not. The authors, in the journal, concluded that "countries where policy interventions regarding improvement in digital literacy are implemented may expect lower incidence rates for dementia over the coming decades."

The findings of the study regarding digital literacy and memory were published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Medical Sciences.

More about digital literacy:

Digital literacy is a comparatively contemporary term, referring not only to the practical skills in using digital devices such as desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, wearables and smartphones, but also relates to the knowledge, behaviors and attitudes in the use of these devices.

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(Photo: Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)
A man plays a computer game at an internet cafe in Beijing May 9, 2014. As growing numbers of young people in China immerse themselves in the cyber world, spending hours playing games online, worried parents are increasingly turning to boot camps to crush addiction. Military-style boot camps, designed to wean young people off their addiction to the internet, number as many as 250 in China alone. Picture taken May 9, 2014.
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