Yu-Hao Lee, assistant professor at the University of Florida, conducted and analyzed a cross-sectional survey about social connectedness, social capital, and civic participation of older adults in digital games. Prior research has indicated that playing digital games can maintain or improve older adults’ cognitive abilities. According to Lee’s findings, social game-playing could decrease loneliness and increase social connectedness among older adults.
The main concepts in Lee’s study were bonding social capital, bridging social capital, and social connectedness. Bonding social capital describe social connections that occur in highly homogenous networks with people of similar backgrounds and beliefs. In bridging social capital, social connections occur in heterogeneous networks with a broader field of demographics and beliefs. Social connectedness on the other hand is a sense of belonging that people might feel when they interact within communities.
The goal of Lee’s research was to examine what kind of effects older adults‘ digital gaming behavior has on them attaining bonding social capital, bridging social capital, and social connectedness. Lee offered four hypothesizes based on prior research, which he then compared with his own analysis of the cross-sectional survey.
The first hypothesis suggests that playing games alone will have a negative effect on bonding social capital and social connectedness. Lee did not find the hypothesis to be consistent with his survey. The second hypothesis suggests that playing with local ties will have a positive effect on bonding social capital and social connectedness. Lee’s analysis indicates that playing with local ties does have a positive effect on bonding social capital, but not on social connectedness.
The third hypothesis suggests that playing with geographically distant friends or family will have a positive effect on bridging social capital and social connectedness. The hypothesis was in line with Lee’s findings. The fourth hypothesis suggests that playing with people met through digital games will have a positive effect on bridging social capital and social connectedness. Lee’s analysis suggests that playing with people met through digital games has a positive effect on bridging social capital, but not with social connectedness.
Original article: Older adults’ digital gameplay, social capital, social connectedness, and civic participation
Authors and institutions: Yu-Hao Lee, assistant professor at the University of Florida
Publication: Game Studies, Volume 19 issue 1
Published: May 2019
Image source: “Grandpa Plays Xbox 360” by chipgriffin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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