Families now communicate via 156 video calls, 364 WhatsApp messages and 260 phone calls during the typical year.
A study of 2,000 adults found people typically have three different group chats with relatives, including with grandparents (11 per cent), children (35 per cent) and even their in-laws (17 per cent).
The average year also sees 156 emails shared between family members, 208 Facebook posts or messages and 312 texts.
Face to face conversation
In comparison, just 364 face-to-face conversations are had thanks to the impact of the lockdowns.
But not much will change post-Covid as 39 per cent are keen to continue video calls with family members, while 30 per cent would still like to have active group chats when life returns to ‘normal’.
More than a third feel it’s important to balance face-to-face communication with virtual methods, although nearly half said technology helps to keep their family connected.
Charles Davies, spokesman for full fibre broadband provider Hyperoptic, which commissioned the research, said: “The past year or so has made people have to adapt the ways they stay in touch with others and clearly virtual communication has been key.
“Group chats mean everyone can be informed at the same time to save several individual messages, and video calls have been a vital way for people to stay connected and see others, rather than just reading text and social media.
“Video adds a fun aspect to communicating and will remain a key channel for families and friends alike, which is why it’s key to have a fast and reliable broadband connection to maximise the experience.”
“We know how important it is for people to stay connected with their family and loved ones, no matter where they are.
Evolution of communication
It also emerged that while 32 per cent of adults believe communication within their family has evolved in recent years.
Relatives people never thought they’d converse with virtually but now do include mums (12 per cent), their children (8 per cent) and grandmas (8 per cent).
Almost nine in 10 have sent or received a ‘happy birthday’ message virtually with relatives and 21 per cent said they’re more likely to do so rather than send a card.
Similarly, 16 per cent have shared their engagement announcement with relatives on social media or via virtual messages, as have 14 per cent with pregnancy news.
But more than a quarter of those polled via OnePoll have spoken with their family more during lockdowns than ever before, with 26 per cent having regular video calls and 24 per cent setting up new group chats.
A further 14 per cent even said relatives invested in new technology to stay connected and 12 per cent set up social media accounts.
More than half said a positive of communicating with relatives virtually is the fact it doesn’t matter how far away they live from one another and 39 per cent like being able to share things with everyone at one time.
Bridging the gap
Communication and body language expert, Judi James, said: “Two positive outcomes of lockdown have been linked to our ability to communicate and the methods we use to connect with other people both socially and in our careers.
“Suddenly the power to communicate became compromised overnight, making us actively appreciate something we had always taken for granted.
“Emotional and practical need pushed us into becoming explorers of replacement methods of communication with a speed and a focus that might not have occurred during the normal social-evolutionary process.
“We need human contact and communication to survive and thrive but the newer methods we use to talk and connect are equally important.”
Judi James’ tips for communicating in a post lockdown world:
1. Use the right tool for the right message: Think of each form of communication as a tool in your communication toolkit. Lockdown has expanded our options by making us skilled users of a wider range of methods. Maximise that advantage by making sure
you are using the best method for each type of message.
2. Keep your skills up to scratch: Face-to-face communication provides the biggest hit in terms of logical and emotional connections but short-cuts like text and WhatsApp keep vital links going when you’re busy or just needing to stay in touch.
3. Size matters: Any long, complex or emotional messages should be communicated face-to-face, on the phone or via video call as these methods allow us a better reading of the other person via their body language and tone of voice. E-mails are great when you want to keep a record or to make your points clearly and texts or WhatsApp are ideal for short instructions or punchy catch-ups. They also work well for brief follow-up messages after a lengthier face-to-face or call, as in ‘Great to speak’ or ‘So good to see you all’ etc.
4. Make video calls as real as possible: Video links give us a chance to see and hear someone and the more we work on our techniques the better the tool becomes as a virtual form of face-to-face communication.
5. Send in haste, suffer at leisure: Always check before you send a message. No matter how speedy your chosen method you should always take a moment of empathy to read it via the recipient’s eyes. The tone and emotional meaning of Texts, WhatsApp and e-mails will be translated by the reader and your joke might sound angry or cold to them. Avoid complex techniques like sarcasm and remember a smiley emoji might not compensate for words that sound rude.
VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION SHARED BETWEEN FAMILIES DURING THE AVERAGE YEAR:
Text messages – 312
WhatsApp messages – 364
Facebook posts/messages – 208
Video calls – 156
Instagram messages – 104
Twitter mentions – 104
Emails – 156
Phone calls – 260
Voice notes – 156