A recent survey revealed that the growing social media obligations faced by young adults across the world are starting to wear them down. Conducted in China, Singapore, and the U.S. by JWT Singapore, the study surveyed 19 to 26-year-olds and found that over 50% of young adults find it too time consuming to keep up with all their social media commitments, and concede the time they spend on social networking sites (SNS) has had a negative impact on their job or studies.
Nearly half feel more stressed by their social media commitments now compared to a year ago – and say that managing these commitments has become a chore.
Asian youth are particularly wired – and weary. Young adults in Singapore are more inclined to visit social networking sites while out and about, compared to their peers in the U.S. and China.
Singaporeans also receive the most notifications, with more than half receiving them every couple of hours or so. The response speed to Twitter and Facebook is also highest in Singapore.
Young adults in China, meanwhile, are the most stressed out: 68% feel obligated to ‘like‘ their friends photos and updates, 66% find it social media obligations too time consuming, and 57% feel more stressed out now than a year before.
“Young adults are super wired, and that’s created an ever-present social obligation that’s starting to wear them down. They feel they have to look at and ‘like’ their friends’ photos and status updates to keep up and show they care,” said Angus Fraser, Managing Director of JWT Singapore.
So JWT Singapore and Nestle created the KIT KAT Social Break Widget, a nifty widget that automatically ‘likes’ photos their friends have tagged them in on Facebook, auto-shares articles that friends have posted on LinkedIn, and tweets back short, quick responses to messages they’ve been tagged in on Twitter.
Indeed, social networking is intruding into every facet of young adult’s lives. Over 45 percent of young Singaporeans do so during lectures and class; and 14 percent of young adults in China say they tap away during meetings, according to JWT Singapore’s survey.
There’s no time or place that’s sacrosanct: a notable number of respondents in all three countries say they visit social media sites while on dates (13%), while in bed with their partner (11%), and during intimate moments (7%).
All that social networking is taking a toll on their work and personal lives. Over 40 percent of all respondents say the amount of time they spend on social media has led to conflict with family, friends, or their significant others.
Young working adults across all three countries feel higher levels of SNS stress than those who are still studying. A notable 57 percent of employed respondents said they sometimes feel jealous of other people on social media sites – and 55 percent sometimes feel bad about themselves after taking a glimpse of other people’s lives via social media.
For many, opting out is not optional. Over half say they feel obligated to to ‘like’ or comment on their friends’ photos and status updates, and feel guilty if they don’t.
Young adults also carefully manage how they portray themselves online. Americans feel their profiles are most realistic, while Chinese are more likely to use social networking to upgrade their image: 67 percent of Chinese said they look more attractive in their social media profile picture than they do in real life, compared to 35 percent in the U.S. and 53 percent in Singapore.
Employed Chinese social media users are the most stressed, the survey found, sharply higher than their working counterparts in the U.S. and Singapore. 65 percent of employed Chinese respondents feel pressure to be in constant contact on social media, 62 percent feel pressure to appear witty on social media, and 58 percent say their social media obligations are a source of stress.
“Small wonder. Social media lays a person’s professional and personal accomplishments bare for all to see,” said Valerie Cheng, JWT Singapore’s Executive Creative Director, who led the team that created the widget.
The survey was conducted from February 1 and February 8, 2012, by JWT Singapore using SONAR, JWT’s proprietary online research tool.
A total of 900 young adults, aged 18 to 26, including 300 from China, 300 from Singapore, and 300 from the U.S. were surveyed. Half the sample was employed and half were students.
Source: JWT Singapore.