The Social Networks and Ageing Project (SNAP) examines the role of social networks in the successful ageing of older Australians. The project began in March 2010 and was funded for three years. Two doctoral students, Pilar Rioseco and Mahin Raissi, gained their doctorates through SNAP.
The aims of this research are to understand the role of social networks in successful ageing. The study is concerned with patterns of social networking behaviour, including social influence and social support, and their influence on outcome measures of successful ageing.
Data were collected using two distinct approaches.
1. The SNAP Survey: Social Activity and Wellbeing of Older Australians
A sample survey of National Seniors Australia members collected data on the social activity and wellbeing of older Australians. The outcome measures include self-rated health, life satisfaction, and depression. Questions on social activity distinguish between social activity with family members and friends, and between face-to-face and other types of communication. The survey also addresses the use of the Internet and online social networking sites for social communication.
The questionnaire was administered in hardcopy and electronic format in December 2010 – January 2011. The sample size is 2100 participants aged 50-90. A follow-up survey took place about 15 months later in 2012.
2. Collection of Online Social Network Data
Focussing on online social networking, a Facebook app, AuSON, was designed and developed to collect social network structure and online networking behaviour of a sample of elders from the SNAP survey. Users provide socio-demographic data at registration, while social support and outcome data are collected via online surveys administered through AuSON. The data collected via AuSON are used in Social Network Analyses. This highly innovative tool will also be used in future research.