Understanding social networking use for social connectedness among rural older adults

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Background:As a growing number of older adults are using social networking technologies, understanding the uses and activities associated with it are critical for designing interventions to maintain social connectedness and promote healthy aging. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics and perceptions of rural older adult social network site (SNS) users and nonusers, and the relationship between them in regards to social connectedness.Methods:A convenience sample of 350 rural older adults age 65 years and older in Southeast Idaho rural counties participated in this quantitative cross-sectional descriptive study. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire including a demographic survey, the Social Networking Site survey, and the Social Connectedness Scale -Revised. Quantitative data were analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistics and correlational and hierarchal regression.Results:Controlling for demographics, social connectedness was not an indicator of SNS use. Rural older adults who had home Internet, felt comfortable using the Internet, and viewed SNSs as important were more likely to use SNSs. Younger-old adults, married, with college education and/or higher income, were more likely to be SNS users. Lack of interest and lack of access and knowledge about SNSs were the main reasons nonusers chose not to use SNSs.Conclusion:Overcoming negative perceptions of SNSs and having access and ability to use SNSs may increase likelihood of use, and offer an interventional strategy for social connectedness.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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