March 23, 2023

Ranking: Gen Z’s favorite brands, compared to older generations

Who do Americans spend their time with?

Throughout history, people have relied on cooperation and social relationships to thrive. Of course, WHO we spend time on developments throughout our lives.

Based on insights from the American Time Use Survey and Our World in Data, we look at who Americans spend the most time with at different ages.

From youth to adulthood

During the teenage years of the average American, they spend most of their time alone and with their families. This makes sense, because the majority of people under the age of 18 still live at home with their nuclear family, i.e. their parents and siblings. Not surprisingly, adolescence is also when time spent with friends peaks.

Jumping ahead to a person’s early adulthood, 25-year-olds spend an average 275 minutes per day alone and 199 minutes with colleagues. This corresponds to people in their twenties entering the working life.

At 35, people still spend the most time with themselves, at 263 minutes per day. However, the time spent together with children and partners, who came in second, adds more 450 minutes or around 7.5 hours day.

Age Most used time Second Third
15 Family – 267 minutes Alone – 193 minutes Friends – 109 minutes
25 Alone – 275 minutes Colleagues – 199 minutes Partner – 121 minutes
35 Alone – 263 minutes Children – 249 minutes Partner – 198 minutes

Although people spend more time with children and partners as they age, this trend may change as women have fewer children. More and more women are now getting an education and entering the workforce, causing them to delay or postpone having children altogether.

Middle age

The average person spends at the age of 45 309 minutes a day alone and secondly, 199 minutes with children. Time spent with co-workers remains relatively constant throughout the forties, which is the mid-career for most working people.

At age 55, time spent alone is still in the top spot, but time spent with a partner is increasing 184 minutes, and the time spent with colleagues also moves up, displacing time spent with children.

Age Most used time Second Third
45 Alone – 309 minutes Children – 199 minutes Partner – 184 minutes
55 Alone – 384 minutes Partner – 184 minutes Colleagues – 163 minutes
65 Alone – 444 minutes Partner – 243 minutes Family – 65 minutes
75 Alone – 463 minutes Partner – 253 minutes Family – 56 minutes

Typically, time spent with children in the mid-50s decreases sharply as children become adults and begin to move out or spend more time outside the home.

Today, more and more children stay at home longer or even move back home. 52% of adult children in the United States today live with their parents.

As people approach old age, around age 65, they spend less and less time with co-workers in retirement and much more time alone or with their spouse. Then between the ages of 65 and 75, people spend most of their time alone, then with their partner and family.

Alone and lonely?

One of the most significant trends in the graph is the increased time spent alone.

When someone turns 80, their daily minutes increase 477. This can be a problematic reality. As the population ages in many countries around the world, more and more elderly people are left without resources or social connections.

In addition, a quarter of elderly Americans live alonethe trend of living alone is increasing in almost all age groups, and this trend affects several mature economies around the world.

A chart showing what percentage of Americans live by age

A natural conclusion would be that increasing alone time affects people negatively, but being alone does not necessarily mean loneliness. Our World in Data found that there was no direct relationship between living alone and reported feelings of loneliness.

A final consideration is the role of technology in our social interactions. Thanks to smartphones and social platforms, alone time doesn’t necessarily mean isolation.

Loneliness is not reduced only by the time spent with others, but by the quality and expectations.

Where does this information come from?

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, available at Our World in Data.

Notes: While respondents to the Time Use Survey track their activity, they report who was present during each recorded activity. This leads to the data used in this article. It is worth noting that individuals may be counted twice because people of different classes may be present at the same time.

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