Families who communicate through group messaging on mobile platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat are happier, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) released on Sunday.
The study by the HKU’s School of Public Health found 72 per cent of local families were keeping in touch via online groups, and the frequency of communication also affected happiness.
Professor Lam Tai-hing, the school’s chair professor of community medicine, said the results showed the importance of families teaching their elderly members to use messaging apps. More than 45 per cent of the survey respondents over 65 years old were not in a family messaging group.
Lam said using mobile platforms means “the quality of your family communication will be better”.
The researchers collected responses from 1,638 Hong Kong residents between February and May last year. Respondents were asked about themselves and their families, and their replies were rated in categories including happiness, health, and family harmony.
Some Young Post readers, however, said they did not feel group messaging particularly made them happier. Denning Kwan, from Renaissance College of Hong Kong, said that he only receives messages in his family’s WhatsApp chat occasionally.
“I don’t talk in the group very often, unless I have some news to share with them,” the 15-year-old said. “I don’t think this sort of interaction makes me happier with my family life, since it is easier to communicate with each other in real life.”
Leeann Tong, 16, from Sha Tin College, said that she and her family communicated quite often on family group chats. “I receive messages almost every day – simple questions and affirmations about when I’m leaving school, or just to confirm where certain family members are,” she said. “Yet we do most of our talking in person. I think this online interaction enhances our communication, but I don’t think it necessarily makes me any happier or satisfied.
“There is something genuine about face-to-face communication that can’t really be replicated online.”