A study published in Psychology and Aging surveyed 1,496 adults of various ages about their social networks, interactions and their feelings of wellbeing. Unsurprisingly, the findings showed that younger people had large social networks consisting of mostly "peripheral others" (e.g. coworkers, school or childhood relations, people who provide a service)
Their findings showed the number of friends people counted as close was the only factor that impacted their perception of their wellbeing and how satisfied they were with their social life.
"Stereotypes of ageing tend to paint older adults in many cultures as sad and lonely," said Wändi Bruine de Bruin, PhD, of the University of Leeds and lead author of the study. "But the research shows that older adults' smaller networks didn't undermine social satisfaction and well-being. In fact, older adults tend to report better well-being than younger adults."
This trend is backed by plenty of other research. In fact, 30 per cent of millennials say they always or often feel lonely, compared with 20 per cent of Gen X and 15 per cent of baby boomers, according to intel from data analytics firm YouGov. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of millennials say they have no friends and Relationships Australia reveals that the highest rates of female social isolation are in the 25 to 29-year-old age bracket.
Given that lacking social connections can be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to research in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, it might be time to take your social interactions off the Internet and into IRL.