Virtual Communities and Collaborations


Online social networks may be important avenues for building and maintaining social capital as adult’s age. However, fewstudies have explicitly examined the role online communities play in the lives of seniors. In this exploratory study, U.S.seniors were interviewed to assess the impact of Facebook on social capital. Interpretive thematic analysis reveals Facebookfacilitates connections to loved ones and may indirectly facilitate bonding social capital. Awareness generated via Facebookoften lead to the sharing and receipt of emotional support via other channels. As such, Facebook acted as a catalyst forincreasing social capital. The implication of “awareness” as a new dimension of social capital theory is discussed.Additionally, Facebook was found to have potential negative impacts on seniors’ current relationships due to open access topersonal information. Finally, common concerns related to privacy, comfort with technology, and inappropriate content wererevealed.