Online Social Connectedness and Anxiety Among Older Adults

Amanda Hunsaker*, Eszter Hargittai, Anne Marie Piper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior work suggests that for older adults, using the Internet may reduce loneliness and thereby improve mental health. However, most studies concentrate on the relationship between Internet use and depression. Anxiety as an outcome of interest remains less understood, particularly for older adults. Using data from an online survey of older adults age 60+, we examine the relationship between varying ways of socializing online and general anxiety. Differing from past work, we employ use measures that focus on experiences with online social interaction in general rather than restricting these to particular platforms. We find that belonging to online communities and participating in meaningful online discussions are associated with greater anxiety. Participation in meaningful online discussions specifically about health and aging also relate to greater anxiety. Our results suggest a relationship between greater amounts of online social interaction and diminished mental health among older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-725
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Volume14
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • meaningful online discussions
  • mental health
  • older adults
  • online social interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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