Role of Social Media in Coping with COVID-19 Stress: Searching for Intergenerational Perspectives

Khalili-Mahani, N., & Elbaz, S., & Pahayahay, A., & Timm-Bottos, J.

Abstract. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated demand for screen-mediated social connections. The drivers of digitization of socialization are often young and social-media savvy individuals who wish to alleviate the stress of social isolation for seniors. To design successful programs, it is important to first consider intergenerational differences in both the experience of COVID-19 stress, and the affordances of technology. In this mixed-methods study, we aimed to investigate perceptual differences in how social media can assist older adults (65+) cope with the COVID-19 stress. Data was obtained from two sources: A snow-ball survey (conducted between April - Sept 2020, n=595); and scraping the public comments on mainstream media's articles focusing on senior's coping with the COVID-19 (7 sources, and 3390 valid comments). Quantitative analysis of agerelated differences in attitudes towards social media, and changes in media usage after pandemic (in <25, 25-34, 35-54, 55-65, 65+ groups) indicate significant differences in what, why and how different age groups use the social media. Qualitative analyses of the comments indicate intergenerational misunderstandings about one another's coping needs. In general, older adults indicate to be less vulnerable to COVID-19 stress than the younger generation and technology is not their main resource for coping with the social isolation. Nevertheless, communication technologies such as Zoom emerged as important for younger generations connecting to their parents and grandparents. While technology plays an
important role in keeping older adults connected, it does not address the stress of losing time to be together in reality. These findings suggest that with the exception of Zoom, the affordances of other social media for older adults have not changed from before the pandemic.


Book: Social Computing and Social Media: Applications in Marketing, Learning, and Health

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS, volume 12775)

Part of the book sub series: Information Systems and Applications, incl. Internet/Web, and HCI (LNISA)

Conference series link(s): HCII: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

To cite this article:

Khalili-Mahani, N., & Elbaz, S., & Pahayahay, A., & Timm-Bottos, J. (2021). Role of Social Media in Coping with COVID-19 Stress: Searching for Intergenerational Perspectives. 10.1007/978-3-030-77685-5_28. 

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