Wave 1 – Report 2020

Social networks, friendships and relationships

During transition to adulthood, social networks usually undergo considerable change in terms of their composition but also their function. Social networks play enabling and protective functions. They act as new knowledge providers, as sources of support, they play a part in the formation of individual/social identity and are a means of acquiring information and support to assist with reaching one’s goals.



We asked the READY cohort a series of questions about their friendships in person and online and about their social networks. We found a statistically significant association between the type of contact and the frequency: deaf people are more likely to be talking with hearing people whether online or in person. However, for the group who report less than once a week contact, their contact is more likely to be other deaf people than with hearing people (online and in person).

In relation to contact with people participants did not know, results indicate marginally greater comfort with deaf people than with hearing people. We found no significant difference in feelings of belonging between deaf and hearing communities.

Those with additional needs had a larger overall network size than those without. When asked about contact with ‘close others’ (which did not include family but could include mentors, teachers, etc.) this difference in network size was statistically significant. Also, those who lived in less deprived areas tended to have larger overall network sizes and in particular larger ‘close family’ and ‘close others’ network sizes. It is likely that these confer advantages in terms of resources, information and active support to achieve goals.

We know that network size increases through young adulthood and size of networks is positively associated with well-being. We will be following closely the changes in size, composition and benefits of social networks over time.

Those with higher levels of anxiety or depression gave lower scores for their satisfaction with close relationships and with friends’ support. The less lonely a participant felt overall in life, the more satisfied they were with their close relationships and support from friends.

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