Thanks to Social Networks, Americans Feel More Connected to People

But a majority also say they have had less face-to-face contact recently as well

Oct 21, 2010, 07:02 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Relationships mean different things to different people. For some, connecting with a friend, even if it is just on a social network, means they are keeping in touch. For others, keeping in touch means actually seeing and interacting with a friend, not just chatting online. But regardless of how Americans do it, are they more connected today than in the past? Almost three in five online adults (57%) say they feel more connected to people now than they did previously and 56% say they find they keep in touch more with friends now than in the past.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,258 adults surveyed online between September 1 and 3, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Although Americans who are online may feel more connected, they are not actually seeing people more.  Almost three in five online adults (58%) say they know what's going on with their friends and acquaintances, but don't interact with them personally or individually, and a majority (54%) say that recently, they have had less face-to-face contact with friends.  

As might be expected, there are some age differences. Younger Americans (those 18-34) are more likely than those 55 and older to find they keep in touch with more friends now than in the past (63% vs. 52%) and to feel more connected to people now (63% vs. 53%).  But the flip side is also true, as those 18-34 are more likely than those 55 and older to say they have had less face-to-face contact with friends (56% vs. 49%), and, while they know what's going on with friends, they don't interact with them personally or individually (60% vs. 54%).

Being connected

Almost nine in ten online Americans (87%) use social media and, of these, there are different levels of connection they feel with various groups. Over half say they feel very connected or connected to close friends (58%) and immediate family (52%), while 42% say they feel this way about extended family through their social media use. Around one-third of social media users feel connected or very connected through social media to friends of friends and/or acquaintances (36%) and old classmates (32%). For business, the same feeling of connection is not quite there yet, as only one in five social media users (19%) say they feel very connected or connected through social media use to business associates.

Social media users also have preferences for how they want to connect with people. More than two in five social media users (44%) say that, in general, they prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media rather than face-to-face, but 23% say the same about interacting with friends and 19% say so about interacting with family. But, this is very age driven, as well. Three in five 18-34 year olds (59%) say they prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media rather than face-to-face compared to 38% of those 45-54 years old and 25% of those 55 and older.

So what?

It's getting harder to remember a time when people didn't "friend" or "follow" someone and have that mean electronically, not in person. And, on the whole, social media users seem to be the better for it, connecting with friends and old classmates that they probably wouldn't have gotten in touch with before social networks. Then, there is the argument that connecting online could actually harm relationships and make people feel more isolated, though just 31% of Americans and 32% of social media users say they feel lonelier now than they did previously.

TABLE 1

LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS

"Thinking about your life and relationships in general, please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements."

Base: All online U.S. adults


Agree
(NET)

Strongly
agree

Somewhat
agree

Disagree
(NET)

Somewhat
disagree

Strongly
disagree

Not
applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Recently, I have had less face-to-face contact with friends.

54

21

33

42

26

16

4

I find I keep in touch with more friends now than in the past.

56

21

35

40

29

11

4

I know what's going on with many of my friends and acquaintances, but I don't interact with them personally or individually.

58

15

43

39

27

12

4

I feel more connected to people now than I did previously.

57

18

39

39

29

10

4

I feel lonelier now than I did previously.

31

11

20

63

29

35

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2

LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS

"Thinking about your life and relationships in general, please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements."

Summary of those saying "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree"

Base: All online U.S. adults


Total

Total
Uses
Social
Media

Total Does
Not Use
Social
Media

Age

Gender

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Recently, I have had less face-to-face contact with friends.

54

55

49

56

55

57

49

55

53

I find I keep in touch with more friends now than in the past.

56

58

43

63

56

51

52

53

60

I know what's going on with many of my friends and acquaintances, but I don't interact with them personally or individually.

58

60

44

60

60

55

54

57

58

I feel more connected to people now than I did previously.

57

59

43

63

54

54

53

53

61

I feel lonelier now than I did previously.

31

32

25

36

27

33

26

33

29

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 3

SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS

"Thinking of your social media usage, how connected, if at all, do you feel towards each of the following groups through social media?"

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Very
connected

Connected

Somewhat
connected

Not at all
connected

Not
applicable

%

%

%

%

%

Business associates

4

14

22

29

31

Immediate family

22

30

22

12

14

Extended family

12

30

28

15

14

Close friends

23

35

21

8

13

Old classmates

8

24

31

22

15

Friends-of-friends and/or acquaintances

9

27

34

15

14

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 4

SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS

"Thinking of your social media usage, how connected, if at all, do you feel towards each of the following groups through social media?"

Summary of those saying "very connected" or "connected"

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Total

Age

Education

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

H.S. or
less

Some
college

College
grad +

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Business associates

19

23

21

18

9

14

16

27

Immediate family

52

57

49

50

50

50

55

52

Extended family

42

45

43

41

38

39

42

45

Close friends

58

73

54

51

46

53

60

62

Old classmates

32

45

33

27

16

31

31

35

Friends-of-friends and/or acquaintances

36

40

39

36

27

36

36

37

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 5

OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

"Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements."

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Agree
(NET)

Strongly
agree

Somewhat
agree

Disagree
(NET)

Somewhat
disagree

Strongly
disagree

Not
applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

In general, I prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media, rather than face-to-face.

44

10

34

44

21

23

12

In general, I prefer to interact with friends using social media, rather than face-to-face

23

5

18

67

31

36

11

In general, I prefer to interact with family using social media, rather than face-to-face.

19

5

15

69

25

44

11

When using social media, I prefer to listen to others share their opinions rather than give my own.

53

12

41

31

23

8

16

I value the opinions other people share on social media.

60

10

50

25

18

7

15

I feel important when I give my feedback about brands, products and services in the social media space.

41

9

32

34

21

13

25

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 6

OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

"Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements."

Summary of those saying "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree"

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

In general, I prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media, rather than face-to-face.

44

59

44

38

25

In general, I prefer to interact with friends using social media, rather than face-to-face

23

27

27

19

14

In general, I prefer to interact with family using social media, rather than face-to-face.

19

24

22

19

10

When using social media, I prefer to listen to others share their opinions rather than give my own.

53

55

52

53

50

I value the opinions other people share on social media.

60

68

61

58

50

I feel important when I give my feedback about brands, products and services in the social media space.

41

47

43

39

30

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 7

TIME SPENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

"On average, how many hours per week, if any, do you spend on social media sites or services (e.g., social networking sites such as Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, blogs, message boards, discussion forums, microblogging sites, and/or photo and video sharing services)?"

Base: All online U.S. adults


Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Uses social media sites or services (NET)

87

94

89

85

79

    Less than 1 hour per week

22

12

20

25

34

    1 hour per week

12

11

12

13

11

    2 hours per week

12

16

11

9

10

    3 hours per week

5

7

6

3

4

    4 hours per week

4

4

5

3

3

    5 hours per week

7

10

7

6

3

    6-10 hours per week

13

17

13

13

8

    11-20 hours per week

8

11

10

8

4

    21 or more hours per week

5

6

4

4

3

Never spend time on social media sites or services

13

6

11

15

21

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 1 and 3, 2010 among 2,258 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #124, October 21, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

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Harris Interactive

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press@harrisinteractive.net



SOURCE Harris Interactive



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