Quality of Life Research (2018) 27:479–489
Internet use, social networks, loneliness, and quality of life
among adults aged 50 and older: mediating and moderating eﬀects
· Adi Vitman‑Schorr
Accepted: 26 November 2017 / Published online: 5 December 2017
© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017
Background The increase in longevity of people on one hand, and on the other hand the fact that the social networks in later
life become increasingly narrower, highlights the importance of Internet use to enhance quality of life (QoL). However,
whether Internet use increases or decreases social networks, loneliness, and quality of life is not clear-cut.
Purposes To explore the direct and/or indirect eﬀects of Internet use on QoL, and to examine whether ethnicity and time the
elderly spent with family moderate the mediation eﬀect of Internet use on quality of life throughout loneliness.
Methods This descriptive-correlational study was carried out in 2016 by structured interviews with a convenience sample
of 502 respondents aged 50 and older, living in northern Israel. Bootstrapping with resampling strategies was used for test-
ing mediation a model.
Results Use of the Internet was found to be positively associated with QoL. However, this relationship was mediated by
loneliness, and moderated by the time the elderly spent with family members. In addition, respondents’ ethnicity signiﬁcantly
moderated the mediation eﬀect between Internet use and loneliness.
Conclusions Internet use can enhance QoL of older adults directly or indirectly by reducing loneliness. However, these eﬀects
are conditional on other variables. The indirect eﬀect moderated by ethnicity, and the direct eﬀect moderated by the time
the elderly spend with their families. Researchers and practitioners should be aware of these interactions which can impact
loneliness and quality of life of older persons diﬀerently.
Keyword Internet · Ethnicity · Social capital · Well-being
Recently, researchers in the ﬁeld of gerontology have been
increasingly recognizing that the quality of life (QoL) of
adults aged 50 and older is a complex and multifaceted idea
that requires in-depth understanding [1, 2]. The term QoL
refers to objective and subjective aspects of later life .
While the objective aspects contain physical health meas-
ures, the subjective aspects reﬂect a subjective experience
of well-being and satisfaction with life .
Studies of aging have suggested that QoL is positively
associated with active social contacts and supportive face-
to-face social networks [3, 5]. However, social networks and
contacts in later life decrease due to retirement, and death
of family members and friends . Social networks and
social cohesion are important not just in order to maintain
the social life before retirement, but were also found to be
part of the success of health intervention programs  Nar-
rowing of social networks contributes to increased social
isolation and loneliness [8, 9], and leads to the deterioration
of well-being and QoL among adult persons .
Over the last two decades, Internet use has become an
important tool in health campaigns  social activity and
leisure time resources for adults [12, 13], and many social
programs suggest that older people be encouraged to learn
computer skills and use the Internet in their daily life to
reduce loneliness and enhance QoL . However, stud-
ies examining the association between Internet use and
QoL among older persons describe two opposite possible
* Rabia Khalaila
Department of Nursing, Zefat Academic College, 11
Jerusalem St., P.O.Box 160, 13206 Zefat, Israel
Shamir Research Institute, Haifa University, 1290000 Kazrin,