Facebook use and its role in shaping access to social benefits among older adults

Ping Yu, Nicole B. Ellison, Cliff Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adults who are 65 years or older have increasingly adopted social network sites (SNSs), Facebook in particular. Yet the ramifications of SNS use in this population remain understudied. Using a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (N = 2,003), this study focuses on Facebook users (N = 1,138) and examines patterns of Facebook use by younger (aged 18–65 years) and older users (aged 65 or older), as well as the social benefits associated with older users’ Facebook use. Findings show that older users have different network structures, but the frequency of their visits and engagement in Social Media Relationship Maintenance Behaviors (SMRMB), a measure of perceived likelihood to engage with others via social media, do not significantly differ from those of younger users. Moreover, our results suggest that among older users (N = 98), the number of self-reported “actual” friends on Facebook and SMRMB positively predict perceived support, while SMRMB contributes to perceptions of access to useful information. Overall, the study highlights unique usage patterns and social benefits associated with Facebook use among older adults. As such, its findings provide insights for the future design of technological interventions to help older adults better access social benefits associated with SNS use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018

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