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Digital contact does not promote wellbeing, but face-to-face contact does: A cross-national survey during the COVID-19 pandemic

Newson, Martha, El Zein, Marwa, Sulik, Justin, Zhao, Yi, Dezecache, Guillaume, Deroy, Ophelia, Tuncgenc, Bahar (2021) Digital contact does not promote wellbeing, but face-to-face contact does: A cross-national survey during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Media and Society, . ISSN 1461-4448. E-ISSN 1461-7315. (doi:10.1177/14614448211062164) (KAR id:92205)

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Abstract

With restricted face-to-face interactions, Covid-19 lockdowns and distancing measures tested the capability of computer-mediated communication to foster social contact and wellbeing. In a multinational sample (n= 6436), we investigated how different modes of contact related to wellbeing during the pandemic. Computer-mediated communication was more common than face-to-face, and its use was influenced by Covid-19 death rates, more so than state stringency measures. Despite its legal and health threats, face-to-face contact was still positively associated with wellbeing, and messaging apps had a negative association. Perceived household vulnerability to Covid-19 reduced the positive effect of face-to-face communication on wellbeing, but surprisingly, people’s own vulnerability did not. Computer-mediated communication was particularly negatively associated with the wellbeing of young and empathetic people. Findings show people endeavored to remain socially connected, yet on the other hand, maintain a physical distance, despite the tangible costs to their wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/14614448211062164
Uncontrolled keywords: social interaction, modes of contact, gender, face-to-face contact, empathy, Covid-19 pandemic, wellbeing, computer-mediated communication
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Martha Newson
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 12:16 UTC
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2022 11:20 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/92205 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Newson, Martha: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7700-9562
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