DOI: 10.1177/20552076231216417 ISSN: 2055-2076

Conflict with children, psychological depression, and problematic internet use among Chinese older adults: The moderating effect of sociability and living situation

Tianyuan Liu, Yu Jia, Yang Yang, Qinyu Chen
  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Policy


Problematic internet use among the elderly is an emerging area as previous studies focused more among the young people. Only a few studies focused on problematic internet use at the level of individual characteristics of older adults or on mitigating factors at the level of the older adult's family, ignoring family-level disruptive factors.


The purpose of study is to investigate the relationship between conflict with children and problematic internet use among the elderly, as well as the mediating mechanisms and boundary conditions of the relationship.


The valid sample of study composed of 428 older adults from 39 different villages and communities in central China. Data analyses were conducted by SPSS, MPLUS, and SmartPLS software. To test our hypotheses, we implement several quantitative methods, including confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), correlations analysis, and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. Also, we employed partial least square structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) for robustness testing.


The results indicated that conflict with children was positively associated with problematic internet use of old people; psychological depression mediated the relationship between conflict with children and old adults’ problematic internet use; sociability moderated the effect of conflict with children on psychological depression; and living situation moderated the effect of psychological depression on problematic internet use among the elderly.


The current research improved the understanding of the mechanisms that produce problematic internet use among the elderly and helped prevent or reduce problematic internet use in older adults in terms of family support systems and individual ability characteristics.

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