April 25, 2012

Generation Lonely? 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online than face-to-face

A new study commissioned by Badoo, the world’s largest social network for meeting new people, today reveals 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online than they do with friends in the real world. But sadly, nearly one third (31 percent) also admit to sometimes getting lonely, and 35 percent would like to increase their circle of friends.

The “Social Lives vs. Social Networks” research [1] surveyed more than 6,000 people in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, including 2,000 Americans. The U.S. findings highlighted the clear benefits of social networks, such as bolstering people’s confidence (23 percent) and helping to facilitate new friendships (26 percent); but also discussed the downsides of becoming too reliant on online communication tools.

Aside from feelings of loneliness, the survey revealed that people could embellish the truth when sharing online, perhaps to appear more interesting to others, or to “control” their online persona.

For instance, nearly 25 percent of American respondents admit they have exaggerated or lied about who they’ve met or what they’ve done on their social networks; with a staggering 39 percent having shared bad news, such as a death or divorce. They also show a tendency to shy away from face-to-face conversation, with 19 percent stating they prefer to engage in text or online contact.

By launching this study, Badoo wants to encourage people to consider how their use of social networks could help enhance their offline friendships, rather than being dependent on them for all social interaction. By providing a platform for meeting people in your local area, Badoo provides an antidote to this worrying trend: in fact, more than 50% of conversations on Badoo lead to meet-ups in the real world, helping people create new friendships and relationships. (Source: Badoo Customer Survey, Dec 2011.)

Dr. Andrea Bonior, psychologist and author of “The Friendship Fix”, reviewed the U.S. findings for Badoo and commented: “It is a growing reality that we are spending more and more time online, and social networks are obviously pivotal to that experience. But it’s crucial that people take time to nurture their friendships with more than just a simple “status update.” As Americans work longer hours, we spend more time online tied to our devices, and with the recent economic shifts forcing relocation for some to find new employment, we also tend to be more geographically dispersed.

These factors can all wreak havoc with our social lives, so, while it’s tempting and certainly convenient to manage friendships completely online, it shouldn’t be the only way we share our lives with others. We risk missing out on truly satisfying emotional experiences that way.”

Jessica Powell, CMO at Badoo, adds: “This research highlights the importance of having a healthy balance between online and offline social interaction. 70% of Badoo users tell us they're there to chat and make new friends and so it’s fantastic to see this study showing social networks provide a boost in confidence to approach new people. At Badoo, our goal is to help people meet in the real world: about 50% of conversations on Badoo end up with people connecting offline."

More U.S. Findings From the Social Lives vs. Social Networks Research:

  • Sixty two percent have shared good news (e.g. a pregnancy or engagement) online
  • Sixteen percent have cancelled arrangements with friends over social networks (among 18-24 year olds, this rises to 43 percent overall)
  • Thirty three percent are more likely to speak to someone new online vs. offline
  • Twenty four percent confess they accept “friend requests” from people they aren’t really interested in and even those they don’t particularly like
  • Forty seven percent believe they have to be more guarded with what they say online
  • Twenty four percent have missed key moments and events in their life, because they were too busy trying to capture and share it on a social networking site
  • Eighty four percent believe that social networking sites are great for staying in touch with friends that live far away, as well as tracking down old acquaintances (76 percent) and helping shy and lonely people make new friends (83 percent)

[1] Research commissioned by Badoo and carried out online by Dynamic Markets among 6035 adult consumers in March and April 2012. Full methodology available on request.