Digital and Non-Digital Solidarity between Older Parents and Their Middle-Aged Children: Associations with Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Woosang Hwang, Xiaoyu Fu, Maria Teresa Brown, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We incorporated intergenerational digital communication (frequency of texting, video call, and social media interaction) into the intergenerational solidarity paradigm and identified new types of intergenerational and digital solidarity with adult children among older parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we examined whether those types are associated with older parents’ mental health (depressive symptoms, psychological well-being, and self-esteem). We used the 2021/2022 wave of the Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG), and a sample of 519 older parents (mean age = 69 years). Latent class analysis identified four classes describing intergenerational and digital solidarity with adult children (distant-but-digitally connected, tight-knit-traditional, detached, and ambivalent). We found that older parents who had distant-but-digitally connected and tight-knit-traditional relationships with their adult children reported better mental health, compared to those who had detached and ambivalent relationships with their adult children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings suggest that intergenerational digital communication should be considered as a digital solidarity in intergenerational solidarity paradigm, which is useful for measuring multidimension of intergenerational relationships within family members during and after the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12560
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume19
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • digital solidarity
  • intergenerational digital communication
  • intergenerational solidarity
  • mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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