|Year : 2023 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 79-85
Social networking sites usage and quality of life among senior citizens
Poh Chua Siah, Chia Sin Ooi, Wirawahida Binti Kamarul Zaman, Sew Kim Low
Department of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar Campus, Malaysia
|Date of Submission||29-Jul-2022|
|Date of Decision||30-Sep-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||23-Mar-2023|
|Date of Web Publication||30-May-2023|
Poh Chua Siah
Department of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Universiti, Bandar Barat, 31900 Kampar, Perak
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: Using social networking sites (SNS) is an effective way to improve senior citizens' quality of life (QOL). However, SNS usage among senior citizens is relatively low compared to the younger generation. Accordingly, this study aims to identify the factors associated with SNS usage among senior citizens and its relationship with QOL. A conceptual framework combining the technology acceptance model and the subjective norm was proposed. Methods: Purposive sampling and cross-sectional survey methods were used to recruit 214 senior citizens. Results: The results supported the predictions: perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and subjective norms are positively associated with intention to use SNS, and intention to use SNS mediates the effects of these predictors on SNS usage. Besides, SNS usage is positively associated with QOL. Conclusion: Based on the findings, promoting SNS usage among senior citizens should include an SNS that is easier for them and a program to encourage their significant others to use SNS with senior citizens.
Keywords: Malaysian Chinese, senior citizens, Social networking sites, subjective norm, technology acceptance model
|How to cite this article:|
Siah PC, Ooi CS, Zaman WB, Low SK. Social networking sites usage and quality of life among senior citizens. Asian J Soc Health Behav 2023;6:79-85
| Introduction|| |
Population aging, which refers to the increasing proportion of senior citizens in a community, is underway in most countries worldwide. According to the United Nations, population aging is a global phenomenon, and it was estimated that the global numbers of senior citizens aged 65 and above were 703 million in 2019. However, it will be 1.5 billion in 2050. In other words, the global share of the population will be increased from 9% in 2019 to 16% in 2050.
The increasing number of senior citizens has drawn the attention of the World Health Organization, and the World Health Organization suggested creating age-friendly environments to assist senior citizens in facing physical and mental problems to improve their quality of life (QOL). The World Health Organization defines the QOL as “individual's perceptions in the context of their culture and value systems, and their personal goals, standards, and concerns. It is a broad-ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person's physical health, psychological state, level of independence, social relationships, personal beliefs, and their relationship to salient features of their environment” (p. 5).
Different strategies have been proposed to improve senior citizens' QOL by reducing their social isolation by improving their social networking. Social networking sites (SNS) are proposed as an efficient way for senior citizens to increase the potential for social interaction and exchange of information in the virtual world. SNS is defined as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (p. 211). SNS include Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flicker, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Some studies have supported using the Internet to improve social interaction among senior citizens. For example, Boz and Karatas reviewed 25 studies published after 1990 and concluded that computer and internet use did associate with improving the QOL among senior citizens. They explained that the improvement in QOL could be because senior citizens can establish and maintain social relations through information communication technology. In Malaysia, a face-to-face interview study among 2322 community-dwelling senior citizens also reported better psychological well-being among seniors who have better social networks than those who live alone and have poorer social networks.
However, the number of senior citizens who use SNS is still less than those aged 18–29. Therefore, it is important to identify the factors associated with SNS usage among senior citizens. The technology acceptance model conceptualized by Davis was applied to our conceptual framework, as the technology acceptance model is one of the most powerful models to explain an individual's adoption of SNS. The technology acceptance model suggests that behavioral intention to use new technology is affected by perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Perceived usefulness is the user's beliefs about how useful a piece of technology is in achieving a certain goal. Perceived ease of use is the users' perception of their acting capability. Besides, intention mediates the effects of these predictors on technology usage.
The technology acceptance model has been applied to understand technology use among the senior citizen population. For example, Tsai et al. recruited 124 senior citizens in the United States and found that perceived usefulness positively correlated with the intention to use SNS. Phang et al. also indicated a high correlation between perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness with the intention to use information technology services among 139 senior citizens recruited from senior citizen service centers in Singapore. In Malaysia, a survey among 44 Malaysian senior citizens indicates the main issues of using a smartphone are small keypads, complicated, and difficult to use.
Nonetheless, Marangunić and Granić reviewedw 85 publications relevant to the technology acceptance model from 1986 to 2013. They concluded that applying the technology acceptance model to senior citizens and people in different cultures still needed to explore further. Schepers and Wetzels also reported that the associations between the two predictors with the techniques used depend on the culture and the types of technology used.
Besides perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use, the subjective norm can be another predictor of intention to use SNS among senior citizens. Social support from the younger generation is especially important for the senior citizens' QOL in Asian society. The subjective norm is an individual's belief about how their significant others will view the behaviors in question.
Some studies have supported the significant influences of subjective norms on mental and behaviors among senior citizens. For example, Pal et al. conducted an online survey among 239 senior citizens in Thailand and found that subjective norm is one predictor of their intention to use smart homes. Doekhie et al. also found the significant influences of the subjective norm in decision-making among older patients in the Netherlands. In Malaysia, a survey among 200 Malaysian aged 45–80 reported that Facebook and WeChat are the most frequently used social media, and most use social media to connect with family or friends.
In this study, we targeted Malaysian Chinese senior citizens who use or do not use SNS. In Malaysia, senior citizens are 60 years or above. The majority of the senior citizen population in 2019 consists of Bumiputeras (56.04%), followed by Chinese (33.63%), Indians (7.38%), other races (0.54%), and noncitizens (2.39%). Compared to other ethnicities, the increasing senior citizen population among Malaysian Chinese is alarming due to the lower fertility, longer life expectancy, and emigration. According to Chai and Hamid, the fertility rate among the Malaysian Chinese has decreased and gone below the replacement level fertility since 2010. Nonetheless, fewer studies have examined the psychological process of SNS usage and the relationships between SNS usage and QOL among Malaysian Chinese senior citizens.
Aims of the study
This study aims to identify the factors associated with the intention to use SNS and SNS usage among Malaysian Chinese senior citizens and the association between SNS usage and QOL. The conceptual framework [Figure 1], research questions, and hypotheses of the study are as follows:
|Figure 1: Conceptual framework. SNS: Social Networking Sites, QOL: Quality of life|
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- RQ1. Are perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and subjective norm predictors of the intention to use SNS?
- H1a. perceived ease of use is positively associated with the intention to use SNS
- H1b. Perceived usefulness is positively associated with the intention to use SNS
- H1c. subjective norm is positively associated with intention to use SNS
- RQ2. Whether intention to use SNS is a predictor of SNS usage?
- H2. Intention to use SNS is positively associated with SNS usage
- RQ3. Whether intention to use SNS as a statistical mediator for the effects of the three predictors on SNS usage?
- H3a. Intention to use SNS is a statistical mediator for the effects of perceived ease of use on SNS usage
- H3b. Intention to use SNS is a statistical mediator for the effects of Perceived usefulness on SNS usage
- H3c. Intention to use SNS is a statistical mediator for the effects of subjective norm on SNS usage
- RQ4. Whether SNS usage is positively associated with QOL?
- H4. SNS usage is positively associated with QOL.
| Methods|| |
Two hundred and thirty Malaysian Chinese senior citizens above 60 participated in this study. This sample size is larger than the estimated sample size of 85 based on the calculation through the G*Power program heinrich heine university düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (4 predictors, f2 = 0.15, power = 0.80, and α error probability = 0.05). The total valid data is 214, after excluding 16 participants who are aged below 60. Overall, the participants ranged from 60 to 93-year-old (M = 70.61, standard deviation = 7.59). 40.7% were male, and 59.3% were female. 40.7% of participants stayed with their children, and 59.3% stayed in old folks' homes. Most of them reported having used WhatsApp (32.2%), Facebook (27.1%), WeChat (26.6%), Facebook messenger (13.1%), and Line (2.3%).
It is a scale that contains seven Likert-scale items adapted from Gefen et al. to measure the perceived usefulness of SNS. Participants placed a tick in the box that best indicated their agreement level from 1-Strongly Disagree to 5-Strongly Agree. Three items were reverse-coded. The Cronbach's alpha of the scale was reported as 0.98, and a higher mean score indicates more agreement with the perceived usefulness of SNS. A sample question is, “SNS improve my social life.”
Perceived ease of use
It is a scale with seven items adapted from Burton–Jones and Hubona to measure perceived ease of use. Participants placed a tick in the box to indicate the extent that they agreed with each item from 1-Strongly Disagree to 5-Strongly Agree. A sample question is that “SNS are easy-to-use.” The Cronbach's alpha of the scale was reported as 0.97. A higher mean score indicates more agreement with the perceived ease of use of SNS.
It is a scale with three items adapted from Venkatesh and Davis to measure subjective norms. Participants placed a tick in the box that best indicated their agreement level from 1-Strongly Disagree to 5-Strongly Agree. A sample question is, “People who are important to me think that I should use SNS.” The Cronbach's alpha of the scale was reported as 0.87. A higher mean score indicates significant others more agreed with the SNS usage.
Intention to use social networking sites
Six Likert-scale questions adapted or adopted from Hoehle et al. were used to measure intention to use SNS, and this scale achieved a reliability value of 0.82. A sample item is “I plan to continue using SNS.” The Cronbach's alpha of the scale was reported as 0.97. A higher mean score indicates a higher intention to use SNS.
Social networking sites usage
Participants were asked to answer closed-ended questions on whether they use different SNS types, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and WeChat. A higher summation score indicates more frequent use of SNS.
The short-form version of the WHOQOL-OLD instrument (Cronbach's alpha = 0.681) that contains six items was used to examine the QOL of participants. However, as the pretest's results found that the composite reliability of the QOL is below the recommended value of 0.70, exploratory factor analysis was run to examine the factor structure among the six QOL items. Two factors were extracted, with the first factor labeled “QOL-physical” and the second “QOL-mental.” The first factor included three items (autonomy, activities, and social participation) that explained 38.28% of the total variance. The second factor included two items related to intimacy, and death/dying explained 18.57% of the total variance.
After obtaining approval from the university's Scientific and Ethical Committee (Reference: U/SERC/99/2017), the purposive sampling method was used to recruit only Malaysian Chinese senior citizens above 60. Locations for data collection included participants' homes, old folk homes, and community centers. Participant recruitment was only done after being granted permission from the participants themselves or persons in charge (old folk homes or community centers). Participants were asked to read the information about this study's purpose, their right to withdraw, and the protection of confidentiality regarding identity and data provided. This information was read out to some of the participants who faced some difficulty in reading. Participants willing to participate in this study signed an informed consent form and were either given a questionnaire to complete or interviewed for about 10–15 min. A token of appreciation of a USD 2.15 Tesco voucher was given to participants upon completing the questionnaire or interview. Data collection took approximately 2 months, with a response rate of 97%.
Upon completion of data collection, the data were keyed into Microsoft Excel. The descriptive results were analyzed by the SPSS program IBM, (New York, United State), and the partial least squares structural equation modeling was analyzed by the SmartPLS program. The SPSS program with Mardia macro was used to examine the normality of data by examining the multivariate skewness and kurtosis. The results indicated rejection of the null hypothesis as the data was not multivariate normal, Mardia's multivariate skewness (β = 5.71, P < 0.001) and Mardia's multivariate kurtosis (β = 66.17, P = 0.04). Based on the suggestions from Hair et al. and Ramayah et al., the SmartPLs program, a nonparametric analysis software, was used to examine the measurement and structural model of the study. Bootstrapping method with 5000 resamples was also used to test the significance of the path coefficients.
In addition, the mean replacement was used to handle questionnaires with <5% of missing data. A measurement model was analyzed first to examine the scales' reliability and validity, and a structural model was conducted next to examine the relationships among the variables. The model fit was examined using the structure model's standardized root mean square residual, which is 0.06 in this study.
| Results|| |
[Table 1] shows the results of construct reliability and discriminant validity. The analyses suggested that the latent constructs are acceptable, that all the scales' composite reliability values exceeded the recommended value of 0.7, and that the average variance extracted below the recommended value of 0.5. Furthermore, heterotrait-monotrait ratios of all measurements are below the critical values of 0.90, indicating that the discriminate validities of all measurements are acceptable.
|Table 1: Composite reliability and discriminate validity of measurements|
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[Table 2] shows the coefficient of determination, effect size, and collinearity statistics of measurements. As the variance inflation factors of all scales were below 5, this indicates no collinearity issue. Large effect sizes were found in intention to use SNS and SNS usage, both R2 > 25%, and medium to large effect of subjective norm on the intention on SNS usage, and intention to use SNS on SNS usage, both f2 > 0.15.
|Table 2: Coefficient of determination (r2), effect size (f2) and collinearity statistics (variance inflation factors) of measurements|
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Only the ages of participants were used as a control variable, as the results of linear regression revealed significant associations between the age of participants with SNS usage, F (30, 182) = 4.17, P < 0.001. No significant association was found between gender with SNS usage, F (1, 182) = 1.48, P = 0.226. The one-tailed test was used to examine the associations among variables. As shown in [Table 3], subjective norm, perceived ease of use, and perceived usefulness are positively associated with the intention to use SNS, Ps < 0.05. Positive associations are also seen in intention to use SNS with SNS usage, Ps < 0.001. Furthermore, the results point to a positive association between SNS usage with QOL-mental, P = 0.002, but not with QOL-physical, P = 0.322.
Besides, as shown in [Table 4], the specific indirect effects indicate that intention to use SNS is a mediator of the three predictors of SNS usage, as proposed by the technology acceptance model (Ps < 0.05).
| Discussion|| |
Due to the increasing aging population, creating an aged-friendly environment is important in improving senior citizens' QOL. Promoting and increasing the use of SNS among senior citizens is an effective strategy for extending their social networking. Therefore, this study is conducted to identify factors relevant to the use of SNS among senior citizens and examine whether SNS usage did improve their QOL. A conceptual framework combining the technology acceptance model and the subjective norm is proposed. A partial least square structural equation model is used to examine the relationships among the variables. It is expected that perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and the subjective norm will affect senior citizens' intention to use SNS, and intention to use SNS mediates the associations of these predictors on SNS usage. Besides, SNS usage will affect their QOL.
As predicted by the technology acceptance model, the results supported the first hypothesis that perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness are positively associated with the intention to use SNS, and the subjective norm is positively associated with the intention to use SNS. Besides, the results also supported the second hypothesis that the intention to use SNS is positively associated with SNS usage. Moreover, the results supported the third hypothesis that the intention to use SNS is a mediator for the effects of the three predictors (perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and subjective norm) on SNS usage.
Nonetheless, the results partially supported the fourth hypothesis that a positive association between SNS usage and senior citizens' QOL is only found in the QOL-mental but not in the QOL-physical. These results suggested that SNS usage improved senior citizens' QOL relevant to mental dimensions. Nevertheless, since the effect size of SNS usage on QOL-mental is small, this suggests that SNS usage only contributes to a small amount of QOL among senior citizens. As Walker suggested, other factors such as good health and functional ability, a sense of personal adequacy or usefulness, social participation, and socioeconomic status (including income, wealth, and housing) are also important factors contributing to the senior citizens' QOL.
However, the interpretation of the findings should be cautious. As the purposive sampling method is used in this study, the results may not generalize to all Malaysian Chinese senior citizens. Future studies may consider repeating the study by recruiting Malaysian Chinese senior citizens from other states of Malaysia to examine the findings' robustness. Besides, as a cross-section design is used in this study, the cause-and-effect explanation of the current findings may not be convincing. Future studies may consider conducting action research by implementing or testing intervention programs to examine the cause-and-effect explanation.
| Conclusion|| |
Overall, the results supported applying the technology acceptance model and subjective norm on intention to use SNS among senior citizens. These results indicated the importance of having an SNS that is easier for senior citizens, as the complications of using SNS would create a negative impact that finally reduces senior citizens' intention to use SNS. Besides, the results also indicate the importance of including subjective norms in promoting SNS usage among senior citizens, especially in an Asian cultural context where family is an important component. Accordingly, families of senior citizens should be included in promoting SNS usage programs, such as encouraging their families to hold a positive attitude toward using SNS to communicate with senior citizens. Nonetheless, it is important to note that besides promoting the use of SNS, other strategies should also improve the senior citizens' QOL.
Financial support and sponsorship
This study is sponsored by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Research Fund (6200/S80).
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]