My Topics

9 August 2019

Using Social Media To Combat Empty Nest Syndrome

When a child moves out of the family home, parents can experience an ‘empty nest’ syndrome: they miss their child and feel they are less needed in the child’s life. A study in Computers in Human Behavior explores if parents turn to social networking sites to stay in contact with their child after he or she moved out of the home. The results show that they do and that the strength of the empty nest feeling determines how often they do it.

Take aways

  • In contrast to traditional forms of parent-child contact, such as telephone conversations, contact via social networking sites increases directly after a child leaves the family home.
  • It seems that parents try to fill the void that arises after a child has left by using social networking sites to stay in contact or to see what the child is up to.

Study information

  • Who?

    758 parents (mean age: 47, 65% female)

  • Where?

    United States

  • How?

    Participants, who had children that moved out of the parental house or planned to do so within the next year, answered online questions about the contact with their child via social networking sites. They noted how often they viewed the profile of the child or posted messages on their profile and to what extent they had an empty nest feeling.

Facts and findings

  • Parents made more use of social networking sites to stay in contact with their child in the period when the child moved out of the parental house, with a peak at six months after the child had left.
  • However, this increased use of social networking sites faded over time: after two years the child-related social networking use of the parents was similar to six months before the child left the family home.
  • Parents who experienced a stronger empty nest feeling, viewed the profile of their child more often and posted more messages on their profile.