Rise of smart phones and social media makes solo diners feel less alone, IKEA research reveals

The rise of smart phones and social media is making people who eat alone less lonely as a new report from IKEA reveals that as we increasingly become solo diners we are turning to social media networks for companionship at dinner time.

The findings from IKEA’s second annual ‘Life at Home Report’, which surveyed 8,500 people, revealed we are devouring phone data whilst eating at mealtimes, with 41% of solo eaters serving up their meals with a side dish of social media.

Solo diners

We’re increasingly eating alone as nearly a quarter (22%) of couples with children aren’t eating together as often as they would like and with one in three (35%) wishing they could eat with others more during weekdays.

Internationally, the biggest barrier to eating together are our different schedules. Over half (51%) of Londoners revealed that schedules not matching up are leaving them eating alone. This is exacerbated by increasingly picky food tastes, with 22% saying the desire to eat different meals from their friends and family is keeping them apart at mealtimes.

Eating up data

When eating alone, social media has become our saving grace, with 16% revealing their mobile devices make it less lonely.

When dining solo the most common use of social media in all cities is interacting with friends or family by chatting and texting (41%). While the trend of taking a picture of what we’re about to eat remains popular, with 24% of us taking shots of our plate.

Three’s a crowd

While the mobile phone might be considered a great companion for solo dining, when it comes to eating together the trend of having a phone at the table is regarded as an anti-social distraction. So much so that in London, one third of diners (35%) are calling for a mobile phone ban at dinner tables. Internationally 54% find it annoying when people use mobile devices when eating together.

Julian Masters, head of kitchens, dining, cooking & eating, IKEA UK & Ireland said: “Despite the fact that we’re struggling to eat together on a regular basis, it’s encouraging to see that food still brings people together – be that in the same room or in another country through social media.

“We know that changing dining habits mean that people need more flexibility with their furniture so even if you’re dining in a big group or dining alone, the IKEA range allows everyone to embrace the joy of eating.”

In addition, the Life at Home Report revealed:

  • Across the world, 9 in 10 parents are involving their children in activities around food, be that choosing what to have for dinner, tidying away the groceries, or helping with food preparation, with 66% believing it’s an important thing to do for child development
  • Parents would like to involve their children furthermore, however a worry over the mess this would cause (19%), and the time their involvement adds to the cooking process (16%), are putting them off
  • One in five households accidentally buy food and drink items they already have, leaving a quarter (25%) of urbanites feeling bad about the amount of food they throw away
  • 23% of Londoners find food that has gone off on a weekly basis