Do Social Media Affect How We Spend Our Time in Offline Social Relations? Evidence of Demographic Differentials from Time Use Data

Daniela Veronica Negraia , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Emilio Zagheni, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research

The use of Internet, smart phones and social networking sites, represents the biggest social discontinuity in recent history. However, we still do not understand the consequences of this “digitalization of life” for people’s time use and well-being. This study examines how digitalization affects the way individuals spend their time. Initial analyses based on the American Time Use Survey (2003 to 2018) indicate that Americans spend less time at someone else’s place, now than they did in 2003. The decline is moderate when we consider all age groups combined, but is dramatic for the 15-19 year olds, for whom we observe a steep monotonically declining trend starting around 2008. We also observe that Americans spend more time at their own home, now than they did in 2003, and this change is again strongest for teenagers compared to other age groups. We use propensity score matching techniques to test if respondents who report more time using digital devices like computers, for leisure purposes, are also more likely to spend less time visiting others and more time at their own home. Analysis which allows us to test why we observe some of these changes in time-use patterns. As we extend our analysis to other activities and countries, we expect to be able to portray a comparative picture of time use change in the digital age and to uncover mechanisms that explain differential demographic impact of digitalization.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course