New research has revealed that while young Australians are more connected than ever, Millennials have been left feeling more isolated than Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers.
The study, conducted by Galaxy Research, revealed a staggering one in six 18-34 year olds (16%) felt lonely every day while more than two-thirds of Millennials (67%) admitted to feeling lonely regularly or at least occasionally. Older generations were significantly less likely to feel socially disconnected with only 7% of 35-49 year olds and 8% of people aged 50+ experiencing the same daily sense of isolation.
The new ‘Dis/Connect Study’, commissioned by leading PR consultancy, Red Agency, highlights the younger generation’s self-diagnosed addiction to their devices, with two-thirds (63%) of Millennials unwilling or unable to live without their mobile phones compared to less than half of Gen X-ers (49%) and a third of Baby Boomers (35%).
James Wright, CEO of Red Agency, said the study highlights that while social media can make it easier to contact others, the impersonal nature of an online world is in fact leaving us more disconnected than ever.
“Our new research really highlights the issue of loneliness among young Australians – something that older generations just don’t struggle with in the same way. These feelings of loneliness seem to be very much tied to social media overuse and the ‘hyper-connected’ lifestyles of younger generations,” says Wright.
Despite Millennials’ increased sense of isolation, they were also the generation most likely to care about regular communication with family and friends. Two in five (42%) Millennials prioritised regular get-togethers with their nearest and dearest and nearly half (46%) said they could not live without family living nearby, compared to only 37% of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.
There is good news for social media mainstay, Facebook, as Millennials continue to rely on the network as their preferred method of connecting with others (74%) over text (65%), telephone (55%) and social gatherings (42%). Email (35%), Snapchat (29%), Instagram (25%) and WhatsApp (24%) also ranked highly as the most commonly used channels.
Gen X (61%) and Baby Boomers (76%) still preferred a traditional telephone call when keeping in touch with friends and family, while email was used by almost half of respondents in both generations (48%). While there was a significant drop in the use of social media among older Australians, Facebook dominated online channels for Gen X (57%) and Baby Boomers (46%) while WhatsApp was the surprise second most popular social media app for both generations.
Wright said we should all be watching out for family members who may seem immersed in their conversations, but could actually be feeling cut off from society.
“We’re growing more connected as a society, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re becoming better at connecting with those around us. Social media, email and even our phones are just tools to make staying in touch easier – if they aren’t doing that then maybe we need to reconsider how much we rely on them to stay close.”