Computer-mediated social support, older adults, and coping



One important new context of communication for older adults is computer-mediated communication (CMC). Although the Internet has become an important resource for information, little is known about the ways in which individuals use this technology for social support. Older adults (mean age = 62) using SeniorNet and other related websites completed an on-line questionnaire (N = 136) investigating social support in the computer-mediated environment. Satisfaction with Internet providers of social support was significantly higher for high Internet users than for low Internet users whereas low Internet users were more satisfied with their non-Internet support networks than high Internet users. Internet companionship network size was significantly larger than Internet social support network size. Greater involvement with the on-line community was predictive of lower perceived life stress. Social support and companionship satisfaction were not related to the types of coping strategies used; however, the results indicate that direct action was the most common coping strategy for the sample.