Now, a new University of Michigan study has found that many adults in their late thirties are just as likely to engage with family, friends and the people they work with via social media and other forms of virtual communication as they do face-to-face.
As a matter of fact, Generation X adults feel that both their online and offline connections play essential roles in their lives, personally and professionally —a concept sometimes referred to as “social capital.”
The difference between this age group and those in Generations Y and Z, however, is that Gen Xers still feel it’s important to balance their virtual and real world lives.
“This is the first generation of Americans to reach adulthood at the beginning of the Electronic Era,” said Jon D. Miller, who authored this study. “So it’s understandable that they should show a substantial mix of traditional and electronic networking as they build and maintain the social capital that will help to carry them through their lives.”
The survey of more than 3,000 Gen Xers also revealed that:
- Respondents averaged about 75 in person interactions monthly, compared to 74 connections via social media platforms and through their personal email accounts.
- Women in this age group tended to be a bit more socially active online, with a reported average of 76 virtual connections in a month compared with 71 made by men.
- Men, on the other hand, had more face-to-face contact than women over a 30 day period –86 in person connections compared with 65 for females.
- Men were apt to have most of these offline interactions due to their jobs, while women reported higher incidences of visiting friends and family, involvement in community activities and volunteering.
- Adults in this age group with college and advanced degrees connected with others virtually with a greater frequency than those who did not, a group that relied more on face- to-face networking.
“Given the speed of emerging technologies, it is likely that electronic contacts will continue to grow in the years ahead, eventually exceeding face-to-face interactions,” Miller concluded. “But the young adults in Generation X are currently maintaining a healthy balance between personal and electronic social networking.”
Savvy marketers will keep that distinctionin mind when developing marketing strategies targeting Gen X. Clearly, integrating both on- and offline messaging is key to attracting –and maintaining –this age group’s attention.