«I turned to Facebook to know when they would open the cemetery»... Results from a qualitative case study on older people’s social media use during Covid-19 lockdown in Italy
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To contrast the Covid-19 outbreak, the Italian government introduced a series of strict measures, based on the «physical distancing» principle. Despite the crucial role played in limiting the spread of the disease, these measures may have negative consequences for the ageing population. This study explores older people’s social media use during the first lockdown, analysing data from a unique qualitative longitudinal study carried out in ten villages in North of Italy,subject to the first Covid-19 lockdown in the Western world. Specifically, the study investigates whether and how social media contributed to overcome the challenges that the long period of forced social isolation posed to older people’s well-being. Performing a qualitative thematic analysis, the study documents the key role that social media played to alleviate the feeling of loneliness and the condition of social isolation that many older people experienced during the lockdown, i.e., contributing to kill time, helping them to perform instrumental tasks, or simply enabling them «re-build» their socially isolated lives.