Social media ‘exodus’ among young

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Published: Wednesday 15th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The increasing number of older people using digital technology has sparked a social media exodus among younger users, a report has claimed.

A third of younger people, or “digital natives”, are turning away from traditional forms of social media such as Facebook because their parents are now using it, according to the Halifax Digital Home Index.

The study found 32% of 16- to 34-year-olds have deleted their own Facebook account and 33% have deleted or blocked a family member.

It shows that while 85% of “digital natives” have a smartphone and 59% have a tablet device, those aged 55 and over, or “digital converts” are catching up with 52% owning a smartphone and 49% owning a tablet.

Just 9% of the older age group owned a smartphone in 2012, according to Ofcom figures.

More than half (59%) have a Facebook account, with 23% signing up in the last three years, a third (32%) use Skype and 17% have WhatsApp.

But one in 10 (11%) younger people admit to deliberately using social media channels where they cannot be found by their family, such as Twitter (53%), Instagram (42%) and Snapchat (39%).

Lord Jim Knight, chairman of the Tinder Foundation, which raises awareness about digital exclusion, said: “The evolving ways we use technology reflect wider societal trends, such as families dispersed around the world. The research highlights how technology is improving family contact, as well as disrupting it.

“The older generation tend to use new devices and apps more where there is a direct need, for instance parents using Skype to contact family far away.

“However the younger generation is often ahead, adopting newer social media platforms to remain under the radar of their parents.”

While the younger age group spends an average of three hours a day using smartphones, the older generation spends just a third of that time.

More than a quarter of younger people (26%) use smartphones to talk to family while in the same house, compared with just 5% of those over 55, while one in five (19%) of the younger generation even use smartphones during family dinners, compared to just 1% of over 55s.

However older users have spent an average of £2,226 on digital devices compared with an average value of £1,976 for younger people.

Of the 48% of over-55s who do not own a smartphone, more than half (56%) say they do not feel they need one, while one in 10 (11%) are put off by learning how to use the devices.

Almost one in 10 (9%) of over 55s with a mobile or smartphone only use them to make or receive calls a few times a year.

More than half (59%) of Britons aged over 55 have never sent or been included in a family group email.

Lord Knight added: “Technology is a great enabler in bringing the family together and bridging the gap in age, as well as geography.

“However, not everyone takes to new digital devices with the same energy and enthusiasm as others, and some lack the confidence or skills, so it’s important to ensure that they don’t get left behind by this big change in the way our societies work.”

:: Opinium Research surveyed 2,003 UK adults online between February 13-19.

Published: Wednesday 15th April 2015 by The News Editor

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