Is the digital age making us less sociable?

ByStaff Writer
Family on phones

In the UK, 98% of us own a mobile phone – yet only 13% use it to make phone calls as the preferred method of communication. In a recent survey we asked over 2,000 people how they like to communicate with people in their personal life and found that less than half would choose to meet face to face. This may or may not come as a shock, but a staggering 70% of 18-34 year olds said they would prefer to communicate digitally than in person with friends and family.

Regionally, around two thirds of Londoners and the east of the country prefer to call, text or e-mail. Northern Ireland seems to be the most sociable bunch, with 59% preferring to meet face to face. Social class appeared to have little impact on preference - across all classes more than half said they would rather communicate digitally or by phone call.

Below you can see what people use their mobile phones for the most in the UK. Phone calls only make up 26% of usage overall, whilst the majority is comprised of texts, e-mails, social media and instant messaging apps. 70% of women said they use their phones primarily for digital communication and only 26% for phone calls - considerably more than just over half of men. 


Looking at the data in more detail we found that 71% of 18-24 year olds use their phones mostly for texting, instant messenger and social media. Unsurprisingly this figure decreases with age, as just under half of over 65's consider these to be the main use for their mobile.

At a regional level, only 17% of people in the North East say they mostly use their phone to make calls and are also the biggest social media users in the country.

With this in mind - is access to social media and digital platforms making us see each other less and even pick up the phone? With constantly updated newsfeeds at our fingertips, is it too easy to think we know what everyone's up to already and the like button will let them know we're thinking about them? Finally, we asked people how many friends and family members they call in a week and over half of us call fewer than two.


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