Older adults' support from children and loneliness: Roles of social media and partnership status

Jaclyn E. Keenoy, Ashley E. Ermer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study examined the association between positive social support from children and loneliness for older adults and whether social media communication with children moderated this association. We additionally considered the role that partnership status plays in these associations. A structural equation modeling (SEM) framework was used to conduct path modeling and multi-group modeling on a nationally representative sample of 5480 adult respondents aged 55 and over residing in the United States, using data from the Health and Retirement Study. We found a negative association between positive social support from children and loneliness; this association did not differ based on partnership status. The negative association between lower positive social support from children and loneliness was weakened by higher levels of communication with children through social media, but only for widows. This was stronger for widows who communicated with their children via social media at higher levels. The present study shows how social interactions may differ depending on partnership status. Additionally, this study underscores the role of relationship types (children) in social network structure, and how family roles may differ depending upon partnership status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1357
Number of pages17
JournalPersonal Relationships
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • loneliness
  • marriage
  • parent-adult child relationship
  • partnership
  • social media
  • social support
  • widowhood

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