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Social media and social wellbeing in later life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2019

Kelly Quinn*
Affiliation:
Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
*
*Corresponding author. Email: kquinn8@uic.edu

Abstract

Social wellbeing is important to health, but maintaining social relations often becomes difficult in later life due to retirement, chronic disease, and the death of spouses and friends. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, present accessible and low-cost communication technologies that have been demonstrated to enhance feelings of social connection and reduce loneliness in younger age groups. This exploratory study uses a four-week social media training workshop as an intervention in a randomised controlled study to examine whether similar social benefits might be realised for those at older ages, aged 65+ years. Social wellbeing measures of social capital, loneliness, social connectedness and social provisions were examined, revealing only small differences in social integration. As these findings seemingly contradict studies conducted with younger persons, the contexts of social media use in older adulthood are discussed, along with proposals for future research directions.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2019. Published by Cambridge University Press

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