University of Tasmania
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Staying connected : mechanisms related to the wellbeing of older adults online

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:39 authored by Sinclair, TJ
Social connection and the need to belong are central to human motivations in order to maintain optimal health. With the reality of an ageing population, it is vital to identify ways to keep older adults connected and included. This was the first study to examine whether, and to what extent, older adults can derive feelings of social connectedness online. Further, this study investigated the relationship between online-derived social connectedness, belongingness orientation and wellbeing outcomes in older adults. Participants (N=241) aged between 55 and 81 completed an online survey which measured social connection: online and offline; the need to belong: growth orientation; and wellbeing outcomes: physical health, loneliness, depression, stress, anxiety, and subjective wellbeing. As hypothesised, older adults gained feelings of social connectedness online, similar to that gained from traditional networks, and to the same extent as younger people. The hypothesised moderated mediation was supported for loneliness and depression, partially supported for stress and subjective wellbeing, but was not supported for anxiety. Results suggest that online social networks may be an alternative platform for older adults to maintain social connection and wellbeing, particularly for those with a growth belongingness orientation. Though causality cannot be inferred from the current design; it is suggested that online social networks may be a fruitful source of social connection for those less able to connect face-to-face.


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Copyright 2015 the author

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