Gen Xers Connect Online as Often as They Socialize in Person
“Given the speed of emerging technologies, it is likely that electronic contacts will continue to grow in the years ahead, eventually exceeding face-to-face interactions,” said Jon D. Miller, author of the latest issue of The Generation X Report. “But the young adults in Generation X are currently maintaining a healthy balance between personal and electronic social networking.”
“The size and composition of personal networks is both a reflection of cumulative advantage over years and decades and is an indicator of the resources available to get ahead and deal with problems or challenges that may arise,” Miller said.
In addition to finding a rough parity between personal and electronic networks, Miller found that young adults who completed bachelor’s or advanced degrees tended to have larger social networks. He also found that survey participants who did not complete high school relied more heavily on traditional personal networks and less on electronic networking.
Somewhat surprisingly, males reported more personal contacts than females in the course of a typical month—86 compared to 65. This difference reflects the larger number of hours men reported spending at work, according to Miller. Young women, on the other hand, were slightly more likely to visit family and friends, attend meetings in the community and do volunteer work.
Overall, in the course of a typical month, participants reported visiting with family and friends 8 times, getting together or having personal conversations with co-workers nearly 60 times, attending meetings of social or community groups 4 times, and engaging in about 3 hours of volunteer work.
Looking at electronic networking, females were slightly more active, initiating 76 contacts compared to 71 for males. Overall, in the course of a typical month, participants reported sending 39 non-work emails, using Facebook nearly 23 times, using Twitter 4 times, Skyping once, and sending digital pictures 7 times.
“This is the first generation of Americans to reach adulthood at the beginning of the electronic era,” Miller said. “So it’s understandable that they should show a substantial mix of traditional and electronic networking as they build and maintain the social capital that will help to carry them through their lives.”