Facebook is not just for young people anymore. With one in three seniors plugged into social media websites like Facebook, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, it's hard to predict what will happen when grandma gets a Facebook.
Will grandma comment on all your tagged photos? Will she stalk all of your Facebook friends? Will she become the next big social media wizard?
A new study found that Facebook usage among seniors may lead to a surprising benefit: a cognitive boost.
Preliminary findings in a study by Janelle Wohltmann, a psychology graduate student at the University of Arizona, indicates that adults older than 65 who learned to use Facebook showed signs of improved memory.
Participants in the study who used Facebook performed about 25 percent better on "updating" - the cognitive ability to monitor and evaluate contents of working memory - over the course of the study.
Seniors may experience decline of cognitive functions because of decreased social interactions, according to Wohltmann. Seniors can be more susceptible to less social engagement due to decreased mobility.
"The idea evolved from two bodies of research," she said. "One, there is evidence to suggest that staying more cognitively engaged - learning new skills, not just becoming a couch potato when you retire but staying active - leads to better cognitive performing. It's kind of this 'use it or lose it' hypothesis."
"There's also a large body of literature showing that people who are more socially engaged, are less lonely, have more social support and are more socially integrated are also doing better cognitively in older age," she said.
In Wohltmann's research, further analysis is needed to determine whether using Facebook made participants feel less lonely or more socially connected, she said.