Adolescents are connected to multiple and interrelated settings (e.g., family, school), which interact to influence their development. Using the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent (NSAL-A), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, this study examined patterns of social connection and Black adolescents’ wellbeing and whether social connection-wellbeing links differed by ethnicity and gender. The sample included 1170 Black adolescents ages 13–17 (69% African American, 31% Caribbean Black, 52% female, mean age 15). Latent profile analysis was used to identify profiles of adolescent connections across family, peer, school, religion, and neighborhood settings. Four profiles of social connection emerged: unconnected, minimal connection, high family connection, and well-connected. The profiles differed in life satisfaction, self-esteem, mastery, coping, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms. The well-connected profile, characterized by connection to all five settings, had significantly higher life satisfaction, self-esteem, mastery, and coping, and lower perceived stress compared to the unconnected and minimal connection profiles and lower depressive symptoms than the unconnected profile. The well-connected profile also had better self-esteem and coping compared to the high family connection profile. The youth in the unconnected profile had significantly lower self-esteem and mastery and significantly higher depressive symptoms than the minimally connected youth. Moderation analyses showed no differences by ethnicity. However, differences by gender were observed for the association between connectedness and life satisfaction. The results support the critical need to examine connectedness across multiple settings and within group heterogeneity among Black youth to develop strategies to promote their psychosocial wellbeing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)