How connected do people feel in the age of social media?
People’s relationships with others are essential to their well-being and mental health – they need it to thrive. But despite the importance of these social connections, there is little research that provides representative, cross-national data on how connected people feel and how they connect with others.
A recent study by Gallup and Meta helps fill this gap, revealing that majorities of people in seven countries – Brazil, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States – have reported feeling “very” or “fairly” connected to people (as opposed to “a little” or “not at all”).
However, the study also shows that not everyone feels connected to this same degree. More than eight in 10 people in Egypt (87%), France (82%) and Indonesia (81%) said they felt connected to others, compared to much smaller majorities in Mexico (65%) and in Brazil (53%).
These and other study results are detailed in a new Meta-Gallup report, The state of social tieswhich provides deep insight into how connected, socially supported and lonely people in different parts of the world feel.
Who do people connect with?
The study asked people how often they had interacted with others in six categories over the past seven days: friends or family who live with or near them, friends or family who live far away, neighbors or people who live near them, people from work or school, people belonging to groups to which they belong on the basis of common interests or beliefs, and strangers or people they do not know.
More than 65% of people in each of the seven countries reported being in contact with people from at least two of these six categories daily or more often in the past week. About half of people in Brazil, France, Mexico and the United States interacted with three or more categories of people at least daily, while this figure was closer to 40% in Egypt, Indonesia and India.
Across all countries, people were most likely to say they interacted with friends or family members who live with or near them at least once a day, with the highest rates reported in Brazil ( 78%) and in Egypt (77%). While Indians were the least likely to interact daily with friends or family nearby (58%), they were among the most likely to say they interacted as often with friends or family who live away (42%).
How do people connect?
The study also asked people how often they had interacted with others over the past week through seven methods: face-to-face contact, phone or voice calls, video calls, email, text, social media and online games. online/video/virtual reality.
In all countries except Indonesia and India, more than 60% of people said they used two or more methods to get online at least daily, with that figure rising to 80% in the United States, 75 % in France and 70% in Brazil.
While people most often connected with others in person, at least one in three people in all countries surveyed – except India – said they had used social media to interact with people. others at least daily over the past week. The study also found that people who interact frequently via social media were also more likely to interact in person more frequently.
Do people contact you when they need help?
Beyond how often people connect, who they connect with, and how they connect, the study sheds light on whether people interact with others for social support when they need it.
At least a third of people in all seven countries said they needed support or help from someone “often” or “sometimes” in the past 30 days, with majorities responding this way in Egypt (69 %) and in Indonesia (61%). Conversely, people in India (38%) and France (36%) were the most likely to say they had ‘never’ needed help in the past 30 days.
Who do people get help from?
In each country, people who said they needed support or help from others in the past 30 days were asked about several groups they could have interacted with to get that support.
In all countries, more than any other group, people reported interacting with friends or family members who live nearby for support or help. Between a fifth and a half of people in all countries also said they had interacted with friends or family members who live far away for help.
Indonesians and Egyptians were more likely to say they had interacted with other people from most groups – including friends or family living nearby, friends or family living far away and people from their work or school.
In contrast, Mexico and France consistently had among the lowest percentages of people reporting interacting with others for support or help from each group.
How do people get help?
Just as in-person interactions and phone or voice calls were among the most commonly used modes of interacting with others, people most often used them to ask for support or help.
Notably, in three countries – Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico – social media was used about as commonly as phone or voice calls to interact with others for help. Additionally, over 40% of people in Indonesia and Egypt have used social media to interact with others for help in the past 30 days.
In France and the United States, people were more likely to say they had used text messages to interact with other people for help or help than any form of online technological communication. exception of telephone or voice calls.
This study barely scratches the surface of the intricacies of how humans connect with each other – and more research is needed. However, it sheds new light on who people connect with and how they do so, as well as factors related to feelings of connection.
The results from each country also highlight specific groups that are particularly likely to experience higher levels of loneliness or less access to support – which is discussed in detail in the full report.
This information, together with data from more than 140 countries scheduled to be released in 2023, can help provide governments, community organizations and private businesses with better insight into who is socially vulnerable and how people in social -economically disadvantaged can thrive with better support. through social networks.
Read the full report.
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