Gen Z, as a generation of digital natives, feels the most comfortable online. Whether it’s consuming their favourite content or engaging with friends, the digital space has become the go-to for almost everything. And with this demographic spending much of their formative years in lockdown, it really is no surprise.
New research from Bumble*, exclusively shared with Centennial World, has revealed that 35% of Gen Z have felt less socially connected since the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, many young people have turned to influencers in the bid for friendship. Bumble’s recent Gen Z Friendship Research found that there has been a significant rise in parasocial relationships among this demographic, “with one in four (25%) expressing feelings of love and friendship towards content creators.”
The adverse effects of parasocial relationships have been well-documented— Colleen Ballinger’s fall from grace is a case in point. But it isn’t all bad.
These parasocial connections have normalised online friendships and communities— something that 53% of Gen Z see as a powerful remedy for loneliness. Over two-thirds of Gen Z have embraced this mindset, with 34% having forged friendships with people they can’t even meet in the real world.
With this in mind, the recent launch of Bumble For Friends perfectly taps into the zeitgeist. The new standalone app follows the BFF mode that Bumble first introduced in 2016.
“The recent Bumble Gen Z Friendship Research has shown us that the majority of Gen Zs in Australia want to make new friends, but they don’t know where to meet people and are intimidated by approaching people IRL,” Lucille McCart, Bumble’s APAC Communications Director, explains. “This is where we step in to make it easier, less awkward, and more fun. It has been wonderful to see how apps like Bumble have revolutionised how people fall in love romantically and removed the stigma around meeting people online.”
Bumble users currently on BFF mode can quickly transfer their profiles to the new Bumble For Friends app. The transition is straightforward, with users able to skip the registration process and log in as existing members.
Creating a profile that reflects their personality, interests, and desired friendships is the first step for those of us joining as new members. The new app follows a similar format to Bumble Date, with members swiping right on profiles they want to connect with.
*PureProfile conducted this research with a sample of 1,000 Australians aged 18-26 and one sample of 2,000 Australians aged 18-58.