A gradual but significant decline in quality weekly face to face time has been seen across the nation over the past five years, despite it still being the preferred and most valued method of catching up with friends and family in today’s technology driven world.
Psychologist Dr Cynthia McVey said: “Quality time with friends and family is very special and extremely important in boosting our overall well being and happiness. Face to face contact is a crucial way to share moments, both good and bad, with your loved ones and it’s worrying that the research highlights a decline in people spending this precious time together.”
What’s holding people back differs and almost a third of men blame work as the main reason for not catching up with their friends, whereas too many household chores stop over a fifth of women from socialising.
Over a quarter of hard working people from the South East feel that work commitments prevent them from seeing their friends and over a third put work before family get-togethers.
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The younger generation – those aged 16 to 24 – are too busy with hobbies and those getting close to retirement age are still restricted by work commitments, according to 42 per cent of people aged over 55.
Given their strong work ethic and higher incomes, this generation are also more likely to blame shopping (17 per cent) for not getting their quota of quality time.
Lack of disposable income in the current economic climate prevents 19 per cent of people from spending quality time together, but geography hinders one in five family get-togethers.
When it comes to communication methods, social media and texting are the most popular ways to catch up with friends, particularly with the younger generation. Whereas telephone conversations and Skype are ranked as the best ways to keep in touch with family members, often due to the distance between them.
Dr McVey said: “While social media and telephones are great ways to keep in touch, spending time face to face with friends and family is invaluable. Facial expressions and tone of voice reveal so much about how people are really feeling and nothing is better than a sympathetic touch or an arm around you to offer comfort. There is a real concern that future generations are missing out on these simple communication methods.”
The research also highlights the nation’s favourite ways of spending time together. Men prefer a night at the pub with their mates, whereas food is more important for women with 30 per cent preferring a meal with their buddies. Just over a quarter of people opt for the simple things in life and like a good catch up over a cup of tea and a biscuit with family.