Australians are more connected to Facebook friends than their family: Optus

Almost half of those surveyed believe social media is making them less close to their loved ones

When it comes to communications, people are devoting more time to their wider Facebook circle of contacts than to close friends and family, according to Optus.

In a survey conducted by the company, it showed that almost half of the respondents accept that social media is making them drift away from their loved ones.

Optus commissioned an independent survey of 2195 Australians aged 18-64 years of age.

The survey showed that the average Aussie has 165 friends on Facebook. However, they only consider 21 per cent of them to be ‘close’.

85 per cent of Australians felt that they lack the communication with their close ones as much as they would like, while 43 per cent admit to spending more time communicating with people outside their close knit group.

"In an age where we can communicate with more people than ever before, the research suggests we find it hard to stay as close to the people who matter most,” Optus head of segment marketing, Gavin Williams, said.

It also showed that 45 per cent of people indicated social networking makes them feel less close to friends and family, with 54 per cent admitting to finding it difficult to say words of affection – in particular, to their parents.

57 per cent of them confessed to finding it difficult to say what they need to because it leaves them feeling uncomfortable, while 45 per cent of them said they don’t have the time.

However, the respondents mentioned that they do desire to connect with their loved ones on a deeper level, with 66 per cent hoping to spend more time communicating with their closest friends and family.

“Social media is a fantastic way of staying in touch. We just need to use it more to stay in touch with the people we care about the most - that is our close friends and family,” Williams added.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • The average Gen Y has 241 friends, but only 44 are considered close.
  • Aussies send an average of 40 emails a week, with only 30 per cent of these to friends and family.
  • Gen Y’s send the most emails per week at 49, but a mere 12 of those are to loved ones.
  • 81 per cent would like to reach out to one person to be closer to them.
  • Aussies would like almost an extra hour a day to connect with loved ones (6 hours a week).