Maintaining Relationships: Face-To-Face vs Social Media

A new study claims that students are favouring personal interaction more and more

After leaving A-level pals, Year 11 friends, and hometown mates behind, university often feels like a great step forward for students eager to pursue new friendships with other students away from home. Extensive bus and train services and the omniscient powers of social media mean that old friends are never too far away – physically and emotionally. However, a new study has shown that students in the UK prefer travelling miles to visit friends in campuses across the country, rather than maintain friendships through the avenues of WhatsApp, Messenger, and FaceTime.

The study, commissioned by TransPennine Express, an inter-city ticketing service catering to the North of the UK and Scotland, surveyed 1000 16-25-year-olds on their travelling habits over the course of their three-year study.

The study found that, on average, students take sixteen trips a year to visit friends on different campuses. Rather than relying on the likes of FaceTime and Skype, 41% of students said that meeting face-to-face was the best way to maintain a relationship with their mates. Only 16% of respondents preferred to stay in touch through social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

A key figure evident in the findings showed that over the course of a three-year degree, students will travel over 2000 miles on average to see their mates – further than the distance between London and Marrakech.

The main reason for instituting these extensive, and often expensive, travel plans to visit and see old friends can be attributed to one thing: a longing for the past. When young freshers embark on a new journey to venture into the unknown, usually a shoddy, plastic kitchen of a shared student flat, many fail to forget their buddies back home. The three-month gaps between winter, easter, and summer breaks are often enough to enforce a sense of belonging to home, and a need to maintain friendships

“Social media is always inhibiting of the maintenance of a friendship”

However, social media is always inhibiting of the maintenance of a friendship. Nothing is more transient and temporary than Snapchat streaks, FaceTime sessions, and Messenger sending, in attempts to solidify a friendship miles away from university. Personally, visiting a friend, seeing them in person, face-to-face, laughing and bantering, outweighs any interaction through social media.

“Students across the UK are eager to maintain their truest friendships, be that through commitment of travelling the country”

In an unsurprising finding from this study, many students across the UK are eager to maintain their truest friendships, be that through commitment of travelling the country.

TransPerinne conducted a detailed study into the travelling habits of young Brits at university. The average travelling was shown to vary based on location in the country. Young Liverpudlians are well-travelled, voyaging an average of 4,266 over the three years to see friends. Edinburgers travel an average of 3,600 miles during their stay up north, whilst Mancunians average just under 3,000 miles.

The average trip to meet old friends averaged out to the 1 hour and 36 minutes, as bus and rail networks advance within the country to afford young students with cheap tickets and faster travelling times.

“Moving away from home to study and live independently can be a great experience, but it’s understandable that keeping in touch with loved ones is a priority for many students,” said Caroline Anchor, Head of Marketing at TransPennine Express.

Even so, it is still often the case that some people are finding it costly with regards to time and money in keeping up with such social lives.

Rubin Verebes

You can read the TransPennine Express here.

Featured image courtesy of  Tom Page via Flickr. Image license found here.  

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