Online gaming isn’t just for the young ‘uns. According to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researcher Dr. Galit Nimrod, seniors also “wanna have fun” on the Internet. And they are participating in online communities for intellectual stimulation and amusement.

Dr. Nimrod, of BGU’s Department of Communication Studies and the Center for Multidisci-plinary Research in Aging, examined 50,000 postings from 14 leading online communities, using a novel com¬puterized system.

The research shows that seniors joined online forums and played trivia or word games, associative games or creative games with each other while chatting on an online forum about sex, gender differences, old age, grand-parenting, politics, alcohol, and faith.

“Rather than mourning the loss of cognitive or sexual function, the forum members instead just laugh at everything,” Nimrod explains. “I believe that this attitude stays with the members, even offline. Therefore, the communities represent a tool to assist seniors in dealing with stress, loss and other negative events. At the same time, they likely contribute to the protection, preservation and even bolster their self-image.”

The games help keep mental keenness.

“For a game to be interesting to a senior, it needs to be relevant to his or her life, allow a connection to others, and provide an opportunity for self-development or others’ development. The games in the online communities meet all these requirements and that apparently explains their popularity,” said Nimrod.

The study is published this month in The Gerontologist in an article titled, “The Fun Culture in Seniors’ Online Communities.”