Mobile Application Use and Loneliness among Older Adults in the Digital Age: Insights from a Survey in Hong Kong during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Chun Yang, Daniel W.L. Lai, Yi Sun, Chun Yin Ma, Anson Kai Chun Chau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Existing literature on the associations between use of mobile applications (i.e., mobile apps) and loneliness among older adults (OAs) has been mainly conducted before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mobile apps have been increasingly used by OAs during the pandemic, subsequent effects on social and emotional loneliness need updated investigation. This paper examines the relationship between mobile app use and loneliness among Hong Kong’s OAs during the pandemic. In our research, 364 OAs with current use experience of mobile apps were interviewed through a questionnaire survey conducted during July and August 2021, which assessed the use frequency and duration of 14 mobile app types and levels of emotional and social loneliness. The survey illustrated communication (e.g., WhatsApp) and information apps were the most commonly used. Emotional loneliness was associated with the use of video entertainment (frequency and duration), instant communication (duration), and information apps (duration). Association between video entertainment apps’ use and emotional loneliness was stronger among older and less educated OAs. Our findings highlight the distinctive relationships between different types of apps and loneliness among Hong Kong’s OAs during the pandemic, which warrant further exploration via research into post-pandemic patterns and comparative studies in other regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7656
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • emotional loneliness
  • Hong Kong
  • mobile application use
  • older adults
  • social loneliness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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