Intergenerational and digital solidarity: Associations with depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

Woosang Hwang, Narges Hadi, Maria T. Brown, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: We aimed to explore dyadic latent classes of intergenerational solidarity with digital communication (texting, video call, and social media interaction) among older parent and adult child pairs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether derived dyadic latent classes were associated with older parents' and adult children's depressive symptoms. Background: Previous studies have not considered how digital communication fits with the established intergenerational solidarity paradigm. Consequently, we know little about how the use of digital communication creates new types of intergenerational solidarity between older parents and adult children, and how they are associated with their depressive symptoms during the pandemic. Methods: Using data from the 2022 survey of the Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG), the analysis took a dyadic-centered approach and applied a three-step latent class analysis with 271 mother–child and 190 father–child dyads. Results: Dyadic partners were consistent in their relationship evaluations for the three latent classes identified in both mother–child and father–child dyads: tight-knit traditional (strong solidarity with frequent in-person contact), distant-but-digitally connected (geographically distant but frequent digital contact), and detached (low solidarity). In mother–child dyads, mothers reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms when they were in tight-knit traditional and distant-but-digitally connected relationships, than those in detached relationships. In father–child dyads, adult children reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms when they were in tight-knit traditional and distant-but-digitally connected relationships, than those in detached relationships. Conclusions: These findings suggest that digital communication was beneficial for older parents' and adult children's psychological well-being, depending on parents' gender and generational position during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-349
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Volume86
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Keywords

  • adulthood
  • communication
  • depression
  • family
  • intergenerational relationships
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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