Deakin University

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Connections matter: Adolescent social connectedness profiles and mental well-being over time

journal contribution
posted on 2023-10-10, 05:21 authored by E Oberle, XR Ji, M Alkawaja, TM Molyneux, S Kerai, Kimberly Thomson, M Guhn, KA Schonert-Reichl, AM Gadermann
Introduction: This study examined profiles of social connectedness among early adolescents in grade 7 before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared (Winter 2020), and in grade 8 during the second Wave of the pandemic (Winter 2021). Method: Linked data from 1753 early adolescents (49% female) from British Columbia, Canada who completed the Middle Years Development Instrument survey in grades 7 and 8 were used. Participants reported on life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and connectedness with peers and adults at home, school and in the community. We used Latent Profile Analysis to identify connectedness profiles at both time points, and Latent Transition Analysis to examine transitions in connectedness profiles over time. Multiple regression analyses examined the associations between profile membership in grade 7 and mental well-being in grade 8, and the associations between transitions in profile membership (i.e., increase vs. decrease in connectedness over time) and mental well-being. Results: Connectedness in multiple domains in grade 7 was related to significantly higher levels of mental well-being in grade 8, controlling for demographics, well-being in grade 7, and COVID-related mental health worries. Well-being was highest when students felt highly connected in all domains and lowest when they felt lower levels of connection. Increases in connectedness were associated with improvements in mental well-being and decreases with a decline in well-being over time. Conclusions: Experiencing connectedness with peers and adults is critical for the mental well-being in early adolescence. Providing opportunities to connect is important in the context of major societal challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.



Journal of Adolescence