Cognitive, social, emotional, and subjective health benefits of computer use in adults: A 9-year longitudinal study from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS)

Andree Hartanto*, Jose C. Yong, Wei Xing Toh, Sean T. H. Lee, Germaine Y.Q. Tng, William Tov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Computer use has been proposed to carry a host of benefits for cognitive function and socioemotional well-being in older adults. However, the literature on computer use remains equivocal as extant research suffers from mixed findings as well as methodological limitations, such as overreliance on cross-sectional designs, small sample sizes, and use of narrow criterions. The current studies (NStudy 1 = 3,294, NStudy 2 = 2,683) sought to address these limitations through the use of a large-scale, nationally representative, and longitudinal dataset. We found that frequency of computer use—over a period of approximately 9 years—longitudinally predicted positive changes in executive functioning, hedonic well-being, eudaimonic well-being, sense of control, optimism, self-esteem, and social relationships with family and friends. We also found that these cognitive and socioemotional benefits are associated with greater computer use over time. In contrast to studies showing that computer use promoted sedentary lifestyles or adverse physical health outcomes, we instead found that computer use longitudinally predicted better self-reported physical and mental health and reduced functional disabilities. The current findings attest to the promising benefits of computer use in promoting healthy cognitive and socioemotional functioning across midlife and old age.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106179
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume104
Early online date2 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

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