Evidence of the continued change in today’s society is highlighted by new research that shows a marked change in attitude with Millennials shunning face-to-face conversations, preferring to chat online.
The new research undertaken by Cancer Research UK highlights that 44% of 18-24 year-olds feel more comfortable using social media, messaging apps and online to talk to people they didn’t know, with only 37% feeling more comfortable speaking face to face. This compares to just over two thirds (67%) of those aged 55 and over.
While social media can be helpful in building up contacts, studies show that young adults with high social media usage seem to feel more socially isolated than those who use it less. This is concerning as social isolation has long been associated with increased mortality.
The research also shows that young people are increasingly avoiding face-to-face contact in other areas of their lives.
18 to 24 year olds are roughly 20 times more likely to never speak to their neighbours, than those aged 55 and over (21% compared with 1%).
And 27% of 18-24 year olds have never spoken to someone they didn’t know on public transport – more than five times the rate for those aged 55 and over (5%) – with nearly half (47%) saying they prefer to listen to music on their headphones instead.
The research was undertaken as part of Cancer Research UK’s campaign for World Cancer Day on 4th February.
Dr Rebecca Beeken, a behavioural scientist at the University of Leeds working on cancer prevention, said:
“This research shows an increasing generational divide between how millennials and baby boomers prefer to communicate. While it is no surprise that young people are embracing new ways to chat, and there are supportive communities online, it is important they don’t lose the art of talking to the people around them.”
“Social isolation can be associated with poor health and poorer health behaviours, and we know social support is important for adopting healthy lifestyle changes. These changes can play an important role in helping to prevent cancer.”
Today, two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
As part of the Cancer Research UK’s support of World Cancer Day the charity is promoting Unity Bands to raise money and symbolise strength through working together. Unity Bands are available for a suggested donation of £2 from Cancer Research UK shops and online.
References: Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. Primack, Brian A. et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 53 , Issue 1 , 1 – 8.
Toward a neurology of loneliness. Cacioppo S, Capitanio JP and Cacioppo JT. Psychol Bull. 2014 Nov;140(6):1464-504. doi: 10.1037/a0037618. Epub 2014 Sep 15.
Notes: Two surveys were carried out to provide this information:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2163 adults of which 252 were aged 18 – 24. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st – 27th December 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2091 adults of which 235 were aged 18 – 24. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 20th December 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
You can see the Cancer Research UK’s press release in full here.