Texas Tech University

Human Development and Family Sciences Faculty Member Investigates Family Communication Before and After COVID-19

Mallory Collins

August 8, 2023

Woosang Hwang

Woosang Hwang’s research highlights the significance of exploring services and support programs with isolated family members

Woosang Hwang, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Human Development and Family Sciences department. His research projects focus on the association between intergenerational solidarity with digital communication and family well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and South Korea. Communication channels include texting, video call, and social media interaction. 

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent implementation of physical distancing measures have expedited the adoption of digital communication among different age groups. Hwang said that understanding how digital communication influences the development of fresh intergenerational solidarity and its potential impact on the health outcomes of parents and their adult children during and after the pandemic remains limited. 

“My research projects will open new theoretical and methodological avenues of scholarly inquiry in the study of intergenerational family relationships supported by digital communication during the pandemic and beyond,” Hwang said. “These findings can provide the field of family science with an updated, fully contained, and validated instrument for measuring intergenerational solidarity that includes digital communication, together with a scoring protocol and measurement properties, which can be used in primary research, policy analysis, and clinical settings.”

According to Hwang's research, parents and adult children who maintained a digitally connected relationship, despite geographical distance, reported experiencing better psychological well-being during the pandemic than those with a disconnected relationship. These findings highlight the significance of exploring how services and support programs can work with families to aid their older members who may face frailties and require assistance. 

Hwang's research demonstrates the importance of finding ways to enhance family connection and ensure the overall health of isolated individuals. Hwang shares how the support of the department and college has helped him further his research. 

“Without the support from the College of Human Sciences and Human Development and Family Sciences department, I would not have been able to devote myself to ongoing research projects over the past year,” Hwang said. “This is one of the many reasons why I like my department and college.”