Social Media May Be Making Us Less Sociable, But One Age Group is Bucking the Trend

You could argue that social media is somewhat ironically named, at least in the eyes of many industry experts. This assertion is made off the back of newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics which show that among all age groups but one, the advent of social media is in fact associated with a downturn in active socialisation.

Unsurprisingly the one group not to follow this trend is millennials, or more specifically older millennials aged 26-36. Among this group the amount of time spent going out for meals, going to the theatre and/or cinema, and playing sports has risen from 35.5% in 2000 to 36.5% in 2015; among all other groups this figure has dropped.

Among those aged 46-55 for example this figure has fallen from 32.6% in 2000 to 30.3% in 2015. In fact the average time spent socialising has dropped by 12.7% among all groups, and now amounts to just six hours per week.

An ONS spokesperson explained, “It’s possible that with increased device use, people are becoming less likely to go out of their way to meet up and socialise. Easy internet access enables people to talk to friends via social media apps, but they’re still doing so alone.”

However according to Dr Rebecca Graber, a senior lecturer in psychology at Brighton University, the problem may lie not with the apps and services themselves but with how they are used; an endeavour which she asserts older millennials are simply more adept at.

“The figures are compared to 2000, and back then device usage was much more one-way and now it’s much more interactive,” said Dr Graber, “Not only that but apps are designed to get you socialising in some way - so whether that’s meeting up over Tinder or fitness apps that encourage you to keep track of your accomplishments with other people or meet up with people for park run, that kind of thing.

“A lot of apps that older millennials are using now are really geared towards embedding that within your social life,” she continued, “At this age they're investing in relationships and in identity-building activities and experiences which allow you to explore what’s out in the world and try new things.”

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