Millennials have finally worked out how to use social media to be more social
Despite its name, social media may be making us less sociable. But one age group is bucking the trend. Older millennials are the only group who have successfully harnessed online apps and platforms - and are spending more time actively socialising than they were before, experts say.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the amount of time spent eating out, going to the theatre and cinema and playing sport by those aged 26 to 36 has risen from 35.5 per cent to 36.5 per cent from 2000 to 2015 - the only age group where the figure has risen.
Among 46 to 55 year-olds the number has fallen from 32.6 per cent in 2000 to 30.3 per cent in 2015, and the overall time spent socialising among all age groups has fallen to six hours a week, a 12.7 per cent fall since 2000.
"It’s possible that with increased device use, people are becoming less likely to go out of their way to meet up and socialise," the ONS said.
"Easy internet access enables people to talk to friends via social media apps, but they’re still doing so alone."
The figures show that those in their late twenties and early thirties are now spending the most time actively socialising, having overtaken those aged 18 to 25 in the time since 2000.
Dr Rebecca Graber, a senior lecturer in psychology at Brighton University, said that the group were more successful at using apps which encouraged social interaction.
"The figures are compared to 2000, and back then device usage was much more one-way and now it's much more interactive," she said
"Not only that but apps are designed to get you socialising in some way - so whether that's meeting up over Tinder or fitness apps that encourage you to keep track of your accomplishments with other people or meet up with people for park run, that kind of thing.
"So a lot of apps that older millennials are using now are really geared towards embedding that within your social life."
Older millennials are also the last generation to remember a time before the internet - so might place a higher value on face-to-face interaction, she added.
"At this age they're investing in relationships and in identity-building activities and experiences which allow you to explore what's out in the world and try new things," she said.
Younger millennials were spending less time on average "actively" socialising, than they were in 2000, suggesting that they were spending more time at home on activities such as computer games.