An Exploratory Research on Online Communication Media Use and Networking Practices among Elderly People

Ranran He

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


An increasing number of older adults have become the active users of online communication media during recent years. Yet the existing papers on the relations between online communication media use and social networking practices are mostly based on the sample of general public or younger population while the aging contexts are rarely taken into consideration. As the aging situation may leads to different social expectations, sociability and networking strategies, it is necessary to integrate these contexts into the discussion of digital impacts.

Based on the 25 in-depth interviews with elderly WeChat users in urban China, this research explores the impacts of online communication media use on elderly people’s social networking practices by highlighting on the distinctions between primary and non-primary ties in their online networking activities. It is observed that older adults’ online social networking is centered by non-primary ties rather than the familial relations and connected mainly by online groups. The role of online communication media played in older adults’ social networking maintenance and enrichment also differ by ties. These different networking practices are closely related with their aging contexts, but at the same time, the use of online communication media increases their sociability and reshapes their aging context.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019
EventAmerican Sociological Association 114th Annual Meeting, ASA 2019: Engaging Social Justice for a Better World - New York, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201913 Aug 2019 (Conference programme)


CompetitionAmerican Sociological Association 114th Annual Meeting, ASA 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address


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