The coronavirus lockdown and social distancing measures have caused an increase in loneliness among people in the UK, Snapchat’s latest Friendship Report suggests.
The social media platform’s second annual report into the nature of friendship found that 68% of Britons feel lonely at times, up from 61% before the pandemic.
The study, which involved 30,000 people, found that nearly half of those asked (49%) said the lack of contact with friends was a key reason they felt more lonely and a third said social distancing had weakened their relationships with friends.
To try and address this, the study found that many had turned to digital tools to help them stay in touch. 64% said they were using online communication platforms more now than before the Covid-19 outbreak.
And the research also reported that 47% of people said the conversations they were having with friends using these tools were deeper than before.
In addition, the pandemic has led some to think about the friendships they’ve lost.
According to the study, 88% of those surveyed in the UK say they have lost touch with a close friend from childhood. 70% would now like to rekindle those relationships.
Friendship researcher Donya Alinejad, who worked with Snapchat on the study, said virtual communications helped create “co-presence” and a “feeling of being together when you’re actually physically distant”.
In response to the findings, Snapchat has announced the launch of its Friendship Time Capsule, where users can create a collaborative photo collage with a friend.
The tool invites users to each take a selfie before the app’s machine learning places the two friends together and ages them up through a range of different scenarios set in the future.
Snapchat has also published a list of tips and skills on how to be a better friend as part of the Global Friendship Report, which encourages people to listen, stay present and accept responsibility in order to improve existing friendships.