Although the popularity of social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook, continues to increase, little research has centered on users outside of undergraduate institutions. There is evidence to suggest age impacts overall SNS use, but little is known about how different age groups use Facebook, and whether use is associated with improved or diminished well-being.
This study examined how individuals aged 18–70+ years used Facebook, and how their well-being was impacted by said use. An anonymous survey was completed by 529 individuals assessing the association between age, frequency of Facebook use in the past 30 days, trouble controlling use, body-image as it pertained to use, and site-related social fulfillment. A series of univariate ANOVAs and regressions were conducted to better understand differences in use and effects of use on trichotomized age groups.
Results indicate that there are significant differences in both the ways in which older adults use Facebook and the effects Facebook has on this population compared to younger cohorts. Findings suggest that younger adults use Facebook more frequently and are significantly more emotionally impacted by the site than older adults. For example, younger adults spend more time per day on the site and experience more negative body image because of Facebook than do older adults. These preliminary findings highlight the need for more research into the effects of SNS on individuals of different age groups and individualized intervention methods for SNS-related problems.
Computers in Human Behavior. 2015. doi.10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.040.