People in their 20’s have 50 times more friends on Facebook than people over 50 years old.
The ‘Facebook generation gap’ has been highlighted in a new piece of research which shows that the average 22 year-old claims to have 1,000 or more friends on sites like Facebook compared to those in their fifties who have fewer than 20.
People in their twenties have more than 50 times as many digital friends as those who are over 50 years old, despite the popularity of sites like Facebook with the older generations, says a study conducted by consumer research group Intersperience.
The news comes during the same week Facebook’s second-in command, Sheryl Sandberg, is visiting the UK to deliver a speech at the London School of Economics.
Facebook’s chief operating officer is going to speak about how the social web has transformed people’s friendships and relationships.
The survey found that there was a clear link between people’s age and the number of online friends they have. The researchers found that those aged 13 to 16, have an average of 450 friends on social networks, with girls having slightly more friends that boys. People in their thirties tend to have between 100 and 200 friends, while those in their forties have between 50 and 100.
However, those using sites such as Facebook over the age of 50, tended to have 20 or less friends.The oldest person surveyed was 70 years old.
Paul Hudson, Intersperience’s chief executive, said: “Our research underlines fundamental changes taking place in British society as a result of finally entering the digital age. Half of the UK population are on Facebook now and the explosion in social networking activity is blurring lines. In a social media context, a ‘friend’ means something different to a 20 year old than to a 50 year old.”
He added: “Social networking activity is just one example of how different groups are adapting to the digital age at different paces. In this case, age is the determining factor – however in other instances it is not. Our research shows consumers are regrouping on different lines, with a willingness and ability to master technology emerging as a key factor in determining how well individuals adapt to the digital age.”