Death in the Digital Age: A life well streamed
Following our success in 2015, the second instalment of our Death in the Digital Age campaign is here!
The first part of our study 2 years ago focussed on online accounts, and how to close them down if a loved one passed away - this time it's all about social etiquette in the event of a death.
Social media has fast become a huge part of our everyday lives, with most people posting, or at least browsing each day.
Has it become the norm to have all of our conversations online, or do we draw a line around the subject of death?
Would you post online to break the news to friends and family about the death of a loved one? And would you be okay with the people in your life posting online if you'd died?
We've conducted research on 2,000 UK adults and the results may surprise you:
- 1 in 8 adults have posted online to notify others about the death of a loved one
- 1 in 5 adults want loved ones to post online to notify others about their own death
- 1 in 3 agree that with the rise of social media less people send sympathy cards
What we found interesting is that people are increasingly turning to social media to break the news that a loved one has died. Around 13% of people have posted online to update others about the death of someone, whilst a quarter of people say they wouldn’t have known someone had died if it hadn’t been shared on social media.
We also found out that about a fifth of people would like to find out via social media if someone has passed away. And almost a quarter of young people under 24 have actually posted online about a friend’s death.
Why would we choose to post online?
As part of the study, we wanted to look into the reasons why people would choose to post online, rather than going down a more traditional route and we found that:
- (47%) of adults took the online approach as it was the quickest way to let people know
- (45%) did so to express how they felt about the person
- (25%) said an online update was the only way they could let some people know
- (18%) did so to stop online friends from contacting the deceased online
- (18%) worried they’d see people and have to let them know in person
- (17%) wanted to see nice comments in response to their post
- (16%) said their loved one lived their life online, so it made sense to
- (9%) said they posted just because everyone else does
David Collingwood, our Head of Operations commented:
“Our study reveals that 33% of those adults who want their loved ones to post online when they pass away have already let someone know that this is their wish or communicated it in their funeral plan. I think that’s really important - we all deal with grief in different ways and my advice would be to consider if an online post is what your late loved one would have wanted and whether there is a risk of upsetting friends and family members by doing so.”
“With people increasingly using social media to update on everyday life, it’s no surprise that online sites are more frequently being used as forums to update on the news of someone passing away."
Jennie Bond, Journalist, Broadcaster and Royal Correspondent commented:
“During my career as a journalist, broadcaster and Royal Correspondent, it was my responsibility to report on births, deaths, marriages and everything in between.
“In my role, striking the right balance of sensitivity could be challenging. This is why I find it fascinating that due to the increasing use of social media, our views on posting about people passing away are beginning to change. There aren’t the same sensitivities surrounding breaking bad news on our social pages it seems. This is reflected in Co-op’s study by the fact that 1 in 10 people see posting online about someone’s death as ‘’normal’.”
Our research was conducted in January on behalf of Co-op by ICM among 2000 UK adults.
David Collingwood and Jennie Bond speaking to the nation about our Death in the Digital Age survey.
For the full official Press Release, click here.
For more information about our study - take a look at our Media Report.