Training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being, the study noted.

"Human beings are social animals, and it's no surprise that we tend to do better when we have the capacity to connect with others. But what can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health," project leader in Britain Thomas Morton from the University of Exeter in Britain said.

"This study shows how technology can be a useful tool for enabling social connections, and that supporting older people in our community to use technology effectively can have important benefits for their health and well-being," Morton added.

A two-year project gave a group of vulnerable older adults a specially-designed computer, broadband connection and training in how to use them. The 76 participants in the study were all vulnerable older adults between the ages of 60 and 95 years of age.

Those who received training became more positive about computers over time, with the participants particularly enjoying connecting with friends and relatives via Skype and email.

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