Sad reality of social media? Millennials have fewer friends than Baby Boomers

A new study has revealed more Millennials always or often feel lonely than Baby Boomers who reported having more friends than the younger generation. Source: Getty

While they may have hundreds or even thousands of friends online a new study has revealed that Millennials struggle to make connections in real life, with Baby Boomers claiming to have far more close friends than the younger generation.

The study undertaken by YouGov revealed that those aged between 22 and 37 feel far lonelier than people in their 50s, 60s and 70s with speculations that this could be due to the ever-growing use of social media. In fact, 30 per cent of Millennials reported always or often feeling lonely, compared to 20 per cent of the Generation X group and just 15 per cent of Baby Boomers.

On top of this 25 per cent of Millennials revealed they had no acquaintances, 27 per cent claimed they had no close friends, 30 per cent with no best friends and, sadly, 22 per cent said they had no friends at all.

Read more: Messages of condolence on social media ‘can cause more harm than good’

This was significantly different to boomers with a mere 9 per cent claiming they had no acquaintances, 9 per cent no friends, 16 per cent no close friends and 25 no best friends.

While the study didn’t directly link the lack of friendships and increased loneliness to social media and the Internet in general, previous research by the University of Pennsylvania revealed its use does severely impact a person’s well-being.

A total of 143 people took part in the study over a period of three weeks with participants randomly assigned to a control group, where they maintained their usual use of social media or an experimental group where they had limited time on platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

Researchers came to a concerning conclusion with results published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, showing social media has a clear impact on mental health.

Read more: Calls for Facebook to pay mental health levy for causing anxiety, stress

“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” psychologist Melissa Hunt explained to the university’s publication Penn Today. “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

Overall, Hunt said with social media becoming increasingly popular among all generations it’s important to take time away from the phone and focus on developing friendships away from the screen as well.

Read more: ‘We’ve lost the ability to communicate and it frustrates me’

“In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life,” she added.

Do you have many close friends? Do you think social media is impacting real-life friendships and the ability to connect in person?

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