2021-06-08Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.25646/8649
“How Come You Don’t Call Me?” Smartphone Communication App Usage as an Indicator of Loneliness and Social Well-Being across the Adult Lifespan during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Gonçalves, Ana Sofia Oliveira
Loneliness and lack of social well-being are associated with adverse health outcomes and have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smartphone communication data have been suggested to help monitor loneliness, but this requires further evidence. We investigated the informative value of smartphone communication app data for predicting subjective loneliness and social well-being in a sample of 364 participants ranging from 18 to 78 years of age (52.2% female; mean age = 42.54, SD = 13.22) derived from the CORONA HEALTH APP study from July to December 2020 in Germany. The participants experienced relatively high levels of loneliness and low social well-being during the time period characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from positive associations with phone call use times, smartphone communication app use was associated with social well-being and loneliness only when considering the age of participants. Younger participants with higher use times tended to report less social well-being and higher loneliness, while the opposite association was found for older adults. Thus, the informative value of smartphone communication use time was rather small and became evident only in consideration of age. The results highlight the need for further investigations and the need to address several limitations in order to draw conclusions at the population level.
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