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Let's Start Talking: Digital Discourse

Let's Start Talking: Digital Discourse

19 Dec 2019

Face-to-interface: real life convos overtaken by tech 

Number of digital conversations per day in UK overtakes face-to-face 
Trends show 15% decrease in ‘real life’ conversations in last 5 years
But tech proves a barrier to the traditional ‘deep and meaningful’
Experts at LifeSearch urging Brits to make sure they have important heart to hearts 

Digital conversations have overtaken those we have in ‘real life’ as we approach 2020. 

According to new research from leading insurance broker LifeSearch, the number of face-to-face conversations we have per day has decreased by 15% in the last five years, with Brits attributing this to living alone, working remotely or sadly ‘having fewer friends’ to spend time with.1

But the rise in digital communication doesn’t mean we’re a nation of chatterboxes, as the number of conversations we have remotely is also decreasing, though at a slower rate2. And over a million lonely Brits admit that they regularly speak to no one all day – by any means3.

Even when it comes to talking to our loved ones, half of us say that the traditional family dinner time discussion is a thing of the past, with more and more of us using methods such as the phone, messaging apps or social media to catch up with family.4 

And although for many, modern life means that we live far from family members or are too busy to spend physical time together5, one in seven of us (14%) just feel more comfortable communicating digitally. 

But half of people feel that digital communication gets in the way of in-depth conversations, and those who speak to their families digitally admit that they don’t discuss the things that matter enough. So now experts at LifeSearch are warning that this trend could jeopardise discussions about the most important topics in life, such as what we want to happen if we fall ill, plans for after we die, or protection for our families. 

Emma Walker from LifeSearch comments: “The traditional concept of having those in-depth conversations around the dinner table doesn’t happen any more – we lead busy lives and often operate on different schedules to our family and friends, and sometimes it’s just easier to communicate through a screen. 

“But this is proving to be a barrier to the traditional ‘deep and meaningful’, meaning that we’re not getting to the bottom of the issues that matter. Protection all starts with one open, honest conversation so we’re urging the nation to start talking openly and honestly about these issues that matter most, to not only safeguard their family’s future, but their own too.”
The findings have been released by LifeSearch as part of its Let’s Start Talking campaign, which aims to encourage Britons to have deep and meaningfuls about the big things in life. 
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Notes to editors
Omnibus research was conducted by CensusWide on behalf of LifeSearch. This was an online poll of 2,003 adults aged 18+ and a national representative spread. The research was conducted in November 2019.

The LifeSearch ‘Let’s Start Talking’ Report was released in March 2019 and polled 2,031 people between 17th and 21st February 2019. The data was weighted to be a national representative sample. Full report is available here.

Footnotes
1. On average we have 11.02 face to face conversations per day compared to 11.11 digital conversations. Of Brits who have fewer face-to-face conversations than 5 years ago, 34% say it’s because they have fewer friends, 20% say it’s because they live alone and 13% attribute it to remote working
2. 2% over 5 years
3. 2% of people said on average they had 0 conversations either face-to-face or any other means per day 2 / 52,383,965 (UK adult population) = 1,571,519
4. 48% of people say that family dinner time is a thing of the past. 61% of Brits communicate with loved ones over the phone, 57% on messaging apps and 37% on social media 
5. Of people who communicate with loved ones mainly in ways other than face-to-face, 32% do so because they live far away and 17% are too busy

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