Project examines social media effects on older adults' mood, behavior

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Golden Tweets program
Golden Tweets program

Residents of Westminster Village, a continuing care retirement / life plan community in Bloomington, IL, learned about Twitter from graduate students in speech pathology at Illinois State University this semester. The “Golden Tweets” project is examining whether and how social media affect emotion, mood and behavior.

Anecdotal results show that residents learned new ways to feel connected, by finding family members and old friends on Twitter. The effort also fostered intergenerational rapport among CCRC residents and the students with whom they worked.

The students expect to have clinical results from their research in the fall.

Each week of the project, with the help of the graduate clinicians, participants were assigned specific tasks to complete, such as retweeting, following new accounts/organizations, investigating current trends or using hashtags. Participants chose their profile pictures — a current photo or one from the past — as well as the types of posts they wanted to view and the types of tweets they wanted to send.

The students administered standardized assessments looking at language and cognitive function. Post-assessments will look at whether any changes in participants' cognition, language or emotions occurred.

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