Staying connected during stay‐at‐home: Communication with family and friends and its association with well‐being

Genavee Brown*, Patricia Greenfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


COVID‐19 and the resulting stay‐at‐home orders issued to reduce the spread of the virus created a novel social situation in which people could not spend in‐person time with their family and friends. Thus, emerging technologies like video calling and other forms of mediated communication like voice calling and text messaging became important resources for people to stay in touch. The purpose of this study was threefold. First, we wanted to test whether people would use more mediated communication (video calls, voice calls, text messaging) to stay in touch during the stay‐at‐home order. Second, we wanted to see if increased mediated communication would be positively associated with well‐being. Finally, we explored whether mediated communication was related to age. To answer these questions, we surveyed 2090 participants who answered questions online about how their use of video calls, voice calls, and text messaging and their well‐being had changed since the stay‐at‐home order. Our results show that people increased their use of mediated communication, particularly video calling; and increases in mediated communication with close others, particularly friends, was related to higher levels of well‐being. Finally, we found that age was related only to the use of video calling; younger people tended to use more video calling. These findings support the compensatory theory of technology use, that people use technologically mediated communication to maintain contact with their close friends and family when in‐person contact is not possible, and that this form of contact, when in‐person interaction is unavailable, is associated with positive outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Behavior and Emerging Technologies
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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