Data collected by Square Holes since March illustrates that there were no significant movements in social media usage resulting from COVID-19, although did indicate huge age differences in the social media usage of South Australians. According to Square Holes surveys of 400 South Australian adults each month since March and the South Australian component of a national survey of 2,000 adults in May, younger South Australians are far more connected to social media, even if liking platforms such as Facebook less than older age groups.
While South Australian aged 65+ like social media less than other age groups, two-thirds of them use Facebook at least once a day, although do not typically use other social platforms. In contrast, South Australians aged 18-34 are strong cross platform social media users, with 88% using Facebook at least daily, 81% Instagram, 62% Snapchat, 49% Twitter and 41% Tiktok, with a large proportion doing so ongoing throughout the day.
Younger South Australians are more likely to be constantly connected or at least checking different social platforms at least multiple times a day, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Four in ten South Australians aged 18-34 use Facebook on-going throughout the day (41%, compared with 30% for the overall adult population) and one in three Instagram (33% compared with 12% overall).
There was a small, yet statistically insignificant increase in social media from March to May.
Trust in Facebook declines with age, with 37% of South Australian adults trusting the platform, ranging from 50% of 18-34 year olds to 20% of 65+ year olds. A large 42% of 18-34 claimed to be neutral in their trust of Facebook, likely apathetic or ignorant to the platform they use so much.
Trust in Facebook is lower than the trust in Google, with 62% of South Australia adults having faith in the search engine, 25% above the level of Facebook. Google’s trust ranged from 71% of 50-64 year olds down to 52% of 35-49 year olds, with 18-34 far less ambivalent than they were towards Facebook.
While the lockdown associated with COVID-19 likely had South Australians jumping on to Zoom and other remote meeting platforms, it did not have significant impact on social media usage. The data illustrates large differences between age groups, with 18-34 year olds particularly engaged online.
However, from Square Holes’ focus groups during lockdown, even this younger age group was missing the face-to-face interactions “I think we underestimate the benefits of socially interacting in person.” 20-29 year old focus group participant.
The research has highlighted the benefits of being connected both online and offline, and the evolving definition of community across age groups. As well as how important it is to interact with friends, family and workmates in the flesh for the psychological and other benefits, even for our younger digital nomads. COVID-19 highlighted how important getting the balance right is.