October 31, 2012 06:00 ET

Virtual Hug: Survey Finds Mobile Technology Can Warm Up New Friendships

Mobile Apps and Social Networks Edge Out Dogs, Sports and Babies as Friendship Ice-Breakers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Oct 31, 2012) - The rules of friendship are changing: 36 percent of Americans say they have met a good friend through technology and 24 percent say they have a good friend they have never met in person, according to a poll conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Skout, one of the world's largest mobile social networks, among 2, 541 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. While tools like Facebook are helping us keep up with our current friends, this survey found that the majority of U.S. adults (54%) are either currently pursuing or interested in pursuing new friendships.

Mobile is the new normal

Americans stay in contact with their friends just about equally in person (69%) as they do online (68%), the survey found. More U.S. adults (45%) say they spend time with friends via mobile apps, text or chatting, than via social networking sites (42%). Texts and mobile chatting are starting to replace phone calls and letters as means for staying in touch with friends; only 16 percent of Americans still write letters, the survey found.

Ice-breakers, online networks, time constraints and shyness

  • Americans think social networking sites (38%) are more helpful in making new friends than sports affiliations (30%), owning a dog (21%), or having a baby (12%).
  • More than one-third (36%) of Americans find it easier to make friends online or through a mobile social network than in person. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to find the real-world friend-hunt challenging -- almost half (45%) of those aged 18-34 think it's easier to make friends online and via mobile social networks than in-person compared to 29 percent of those ages 45+.
  • The top three biggest challenges in making new friends are: being too busy with work/friends/family (36%), being too shy (28%), and not knowing where to meet new people (15%).
  • A lifetime of new friends -- One-third of Americans made most friends during high school, and almost a third (31%) of those over 21 made the most number of friends during their professional age.

Venus vs. Mars

Things have changed since the age of When Harry Met Sally and the vast majority of Americans now feel that men and women can truly be "just friends" (86%). Other gender differences remain though:

  • Overall, Americans are more likely to say that most of their friends are female than male (28% vs. 24%), but men are more likely than women to have an even balance of male and female friends (51% vs. 45%, respectively).
  • Men make more friends than women in college: 22 percent of men who attended at least some college indicated that they made most friends in college vs. 14 percent of women.
  • Women are more likely to think that they are good friends than men (96% vs. 93%).
  • Overall, a whopping 94% of Americans consider themselves a good friend.

"With Americans turning to technology to find friends, apps like Skout are becoming an intrinsic part of daily life," said Chelsea Manning, spokesperson for Skout. "Chatting with neighbors on the sidewalk while walking a dog isn't everyone's ideal. Nor is it possible for some, given work schedules and differing interests. Skout makes it easier to meet new people and make good friends nearby and around the world."

Skout is one of the world's largest and most active mobile social scenes with users in more than 180 countries and 1.5 million users joining every month. The app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Harris Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Skout from October 8-10, 2012 among 2,541 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Emily Borders.

For more information or to request additional data derived from this survey, including the sentiments broken out by varying age groups, gender or geography, please contact Skout(at)bordersgratehouse(dot)com.

About Skout

Skout is one of the largest global networks for meeting new people. With your mobile device as your guide, you can discover new friends at the bar or in Barcelona; then YOU decide if, when and how you want to connect. The Skout community thrives because we focus on fun and have zero tolerance for bad behavior. Life is short, you are busy and people are having fun without you right now. So start Skouting and find your party, anytime, anywhere.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Emily Borders
    Borders + Gratehouse
    Phone: (415) 963-4174
    Email: Emily(at)