Beyond the Nuclear Family: Children’s Social Networks and Depressive Symptomology

This study identified social network profiles among children, determined whether profiles vary across sociodemographic characteristics, and investigated links between childhood profiles and depressive symptomology using three waves of data spanning 23 years (Wave 1, 1992 Metro-Detroit representative sample: n = 193, ages 8-12). Latent profile analysis revealed three profiles: Close Family (22%), Varied Family (57%), Friend and Family (21%). White children were more likely than Black children to be in the Friend and Family profile. Children in the Close Family profile reported the lowest levels of depressive symptomology in childhood, but exhibited the steepest increase over time. Findings suggest that close, family centric networks are protective in childhood, but less so as children develop into adulthood, highlighting the importance of considering developmental perspectives.