The quality of friends, not quantity, is the key to happiness, and large networks on social networks do not match proximity in real life, the study said.
- Researchers at the University of Leeds used the survey results for their study.
- Young people, as a rule, had larger, but less personal social networks.
- Middle-aged people with fewer but closer friends said they were more satisfied.
The study found that having hundreds of friends on Facebook would not replace a handful of close friends in real life.
The researchers found that people who had only a few friends were at least as happy as those who had much more if many of them were online.
The number of “minor others” that someone contacted on the Internet — for example, former classmates and colleagues — did not relate to how satisfied they were.
Researchers say social media encourages young people to have larger, but more impersonal “friends” networks.
But instead of trying to accumulate friends, they added, the best cure for loneliness is to spend time with those with whom you are closest.
Researchers from the University of Leeds used the results of surveys conducted by 1496 people to find that young people tend to have larger, but less satisfying social networks than middle-aged people who had fewer friends, but they felt closer to him (image)
Scientists from the University of Leeds conducted a study using data from two online surveys conducted by 1496 people by a nonprofit research organization.
People participating in the study talked about their age, the composition of their social networks, how often they had various types of social interactions, and their own feelings of well-being.
They included details of how often and how they interacted with family or neighbors, and whether they included people who provided services to them in their networks.
TEENAGERS "LESS FRIENDS THAN 20 YEARS BACK"
Studies show that modern teens have fewer friends than 20 years ago, despite the growing popularity of social networks.
A study by the University of Queensland in Australia found that teens were less lonely than two decades ago, but they have poorer social networks.
A survey conducted between 1991 and 2012 by more than 285,000 American students showed that young people have fewer friends with whom to communicate, but less desire to have more friends.
The authors of the study wrote: “Greater economic opportunities give people more freedom to manage their own money, decide who to meet and marry, reducing the influence of relatives and giving people more autonomy, which can increase individualism.
“Economic changes lead to an increase in personality, which can lead to a decrease in interest in friends, increased self-confidence, increased self-esteem and reduced loneliness.”
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology in 2015.
The number of close friends seemed to be the only one that influenced how pleased they were with their social life.
“Loneliness is associated not so much with the number of friends you have, but with how you relate to your friends,” said Dr. Wendy Bruin de Bruin.
“Often young people admit that they have a negative perception of their friends. Loneliness is found in people of all ages.
“If you feel alone, it may be more useful to establish a positive relationship with a friend than to try to find new people to meet.”
In his study, Dr. Bruin de Bruin found that older people tend to have smaller social networks.
Young people were larger, but mostly they consisted of “minor” – not real friends, but just familiar people – and did not contribute to their happiness.
Even the differences in the number of family members or neighbors with whom someone spent time did not affect how happy they were with their social life.
Dr. Bruin de Bruin said her study echoes other findings showing that people reported being happier if most of their online friends were really their friends in reality.
She added: “In many cultures, aging in many cultures makes older people sad and lonely.
“But the study shows that small networks of older people do not undermine social satisfaction and well-being.
“In fact, older people tend to report better health than young people.”
The study was published in the journal Psychology and Aging.