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Britons make more time for friendship than ever before

Modern friendship study reveals the average Brit has 21 more friends than in 2003

The average number of friends a person in Britain has today is 54, a rise of 64% compared to 2003, according to the ‘Windows Live: Anatomy of Friendship Report’, a comprehensive study of the friendship patterns of over 1000 Brits.  The rise is attributed to the explosion in social networking sites and communication phenomena such as email and instant messenger.

The study explores everything from how many friends we make in a lifetime, where we make them and how long we have known them, to how we communicate, conversation topics and even the friendliest places in the UK. 

Key Findings:

  • The identification of the ‘cyber friendship circle’ as modern communications tools change the face of friendships
  • Nearly a third (31%) of the population has made friends online
  • We make 406 friends in a lifetime but lose 352 of them
  • 45% of the population make between two and five friends a year
  • 30% of the population communicate with their friends via a blog
  • Wales was identified as the friendliest place in the UK

Cyber Friendship Circles

The increase in our number of friends can be attributed to the communications avenues opened up by the internet, from social networking sites like Live Spaces to communication tools like Live Mail and Live Messenger.  In fact, the study found that nearly a third (31%) of the population has made friends online and in some cases has never met the person they are friends with. 

Anne Kirah, the anthropologist who analysed the findings, believes we are increasingly seeing traditional friendship circles evolve into ‘cyber’ friendship circles. She comments; In its early stages, we saw these relationships being described as ‘virtual’ friends, suggesting they weren’t as valid or close as more traditional friendships.  However, it is now evident that these friends can be just as powerful and meaningful as our best ‘face to face’ friends as the worlds of virtual and real friendships are becoming more blurred. 

Friendship categorisation still occurs, however, with only a sixth (nine) make it into the inner sanctum of ‘close’ or ‘best friends – people that we would share our closest personal information with.  The remaining five sixths (45) are considered only as ‘social friends’ – those occupying the wider circle of our friendship group. 

Friends Today, Gone Tomorrow

Despite the increased use of technology to make and maintain friendships, the report also uncovered that the average Briton makes 406 friends in their lifetime but in fact loses 352 of them largely due to their hectic work life.  The study found that 45% of the population make between two and five friends a year and a sizable 606,000 people have made between 31 and 40 friends in the past year.

Blogging for Friends

77% of those questioned use technology to maintain their friendships and the research found that 30% of the population communicate with their friends via a blog, space or social networking site.

However, while people are happy to communicate opinions and news on a blog, only 1% would use a blog to share gossip.  Face to face is still the preference for communicating gossip (32%), with telephone second (20%) and no one said they would share important news on a blog.

OAP Messengers

51% of the population use messenger to stay in touch with their friends, using instant messenger technology like Live Messenger.  A sizable 30% of the over 65s have used messenger to contact friends.  

Anne Kirah continues: The world of friendship has transformed due to the internet and the rise of social networking and online communication.  Now more than ever we have friends from all over the world, some of which we have never seen.  Through blogging and social networking, the internet has simply become another way to create real, long lasting friendships, the same as work, or school.

Suzanne Cook, marketing manager for Live Spaces said: This report is a fascinating look into friendship in the UK.  We are using this research in the ongoing quest to create communications products that offer our customers more meaningful interaction, whether they are having a video conversation on Live Messenger, writing an email in Live Mail or blogging on Live Spaces.

Windows Live commissioned ICM to conduct the Anatomy of Friendship report. 1000 people were questioned during September and October 2006.

Wales and South West (20)
Midlands (14)
North England (13)
South East (10)
Scotland (6)

Anatomy of Modern Friendship 2003 Press Release
Anatomy of Modern Conversation 2004 Press Release
Download Windows Live Anatomy of Friendship 2006 Press Release

Thanks goes to The Red Consultancy for sending me this in, The Red Consultancy is a leading PR (Public Releations) Company that has worked with Microsoft since 1995 and has offices in London, New York and San Francisco.

2 thoughts on “Britons make more time for friendship than ever before

Eric Cheung November 27, 2006 at 3:45 am

The worst thing is.. when you met some new friends, you possibly forgot their name tomorrow (especially after hangover :P)… but wow that’s a very interesting statistics you found.

Darren Straight November 27, 2006 at 9:29 am

Haha yeah, but who are you again? :p

And ohh please give thanks to The Red Consultancy for sending me this press release early, for release today!

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