Being single when marriage is the norm: Internet use and the well-being of never-married adults in Indonesia

Abstract

Marriage rates in Indonesia are some of the highest in Asia as marriage is socially expected. Indonesian individuals who remain single beyond the age at which marriage is expected face stigmatization, such as being objects of pity or being labelled as selfish, too picky, or homosexual. Social stigmatization has consequences for feelings of belonging, which Internet use may be able to address. The Internet may allow singles to fulfil their social needs and possibly also fulfil their recreational and sexual needs, thus potentially contributing to singles’ welfare. However, there are few studies that explore the role of the Internet in assisting individuals who have never married to fulfil their leisure and social needs. This study investigates whether and how Internet use enhances single people’s well-being in Indonesia. A sample of 559 single and married Indonesians (Mage = 31.68; SD = 5.54), of which 310 were never-married, participated in an online survey, where their Internet use, life satisfaction, loneliness, and online social support were recorded. Data were primarily analyzed using hierarchical regression, one-way ANOVA, and Pearson’s correlation. The study found that single people who were in dating relationships used the Internet significantly more than married people, and the majority of Internet use was for recreational purposes and viewing pornography. The well-being of never-married Indonesian people was not significantly associated with their Internet use and their perceived social support from online contexts, thus highlighting the importance of face-to-face interactions.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr. Leonce Newby for her helpful assistance in proofreading the manuscript, and Julian Halim for his assistance in the back-translation process of the study instruments.

Funding

This work was supported by Indonesian Endowment Funds for Education. The first author was the recipient.

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Correspondence to Karel Karsten Himawan.

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Himawan, K.K., Underwood, M., Bambling, M. et al. Being single when marriage is the norm: Internet use and the well-being of never-married adults in Indonesia. Curr Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-01367-6

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Keywords

  • Loneliness
  • Life satisfaction
  • Online social support
  • Single people
  • Welfare
  • Wellbeing