Consumers suffer social media "stress"

11 May 2012

SINGAPORE: Many young consumers are feeling pressurised by the "obligations" that come from using social media, a survey covering China, Singapore and the US has found.

JWT Singapore, the agency, polled 900 people in the 18–26 year old demographic, 50% of which agreed sites like Facebook and Twitter had become "too time consuming", a figure hitting 66% in China.

Almost half of the panel also reported experiencing "stress" due to the effort ongoing interaction on these services demanded, again growing to 57% in China.

Equally, a majority were weighed down by the "pressure" of being in "constant contact" on these platforms and felt it was mandatory to "like" friends' status updates and photos. The Chinese sample also beat the norm here, on 68%.

In all, 60% of the interviewees revealed friends asked them personally to look at comments and pictures, and 53% of Americans in employment felt "guilty" if they didn't respond to messages instantly.

"Young adults are super wired, and that's created an ever-present social obligation that's starting to wear them down," said Angus Fraser, managing director of JWT Singapore. "This demographic is clearly suffering from rising levels of social media stress."

Overall, 45% of people polled in Singapore visited social sites in the middle of lectures or classes. More than 30% of Americans did so upon waking late at night and 14% of Chinese users pursued the same pastime in meetings.

A further 13% of the entire survey community had logged on when out on a date, as had 11% when lying next to their partner in bed, and 7% during what the study termed "intimate moments".

Some 29% of Americans accessed these platforms when getting dressed, and 35% often multi-tasked in this way while talking on the phone.

Elsewhere, 67% of Chinese contributors said they appeared to be "more attractive" in their social media profile picture than real life, falling to 53% in Singapore and 35% in the US.

A majority of the individuals questioned had also been late for a meeting due to lingering on these web properties, and 40% had experienced conflict with their friends, family or partner for this reason.

In China, 65% of people currently in employment felt under pressure to be constantly available on social media and 62% believed it was important to appear witty on these sites, which 58% regarded as a "source of stress".

More broadly, among respondents in employment across all the featured countries, 57% were sometimes jealous of their peers on these services, and 55% had "felt bad about themselves" after gaining an insight into the lives of other users.

Data sourced from JWT Singapore; additional content by Warc staff