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Canadians Had More Friends In 2013 Than In 2003: StatCan Study

05/20/2015 12:22 EDT | Updated 05/20/2015 12:59 EDT

A new study released by Statistics Canada says Canadians had more friends in 2013 than they did a decade earlier.

The study, Trends in Social Capital in Canada, found that 75 per cent of people in 2013 said they had three or more close friends. In 2003, only 70 per cent of the population said the same.

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"In addition, the proportion of people who had more than 10 other friends or acquaintances grew from 56 per cent in 2003 to 60 per cent in 2013," the study says.

In increasingly positive news, the social networks of Canadians, particularly those of young'uns, became more diverse.

"In 2013, 59 per cent of people reported that at least a few of the friends they contacted in the last month came from an ethnic group visibly different from their own. This compares with 54 per cent in 2003," reads the report.

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We met in university!

Unfortunately, that increase didn't extend to those 55 and older.

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I remember when we got our first microwave!

But while Canadians scored more friends, the study noted that in-person hangouts were declining. The percentage of Canadians who saw their friends in real life a few times a week went from 56 per cent in 2003 to 44 per cent in 2013. This was similar for family members.

"Canadians were also less likely to see their relatives frequently compared with 10 years earlier," according to the report.

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I can't wait to see my extended family again in exactly 365 days.

Could Facebook have anything to do with this? The StatCan study doesn't dive into the possible effects of social media on Canadians and their friendships, but numerous reports on the social networking giant's effects on social behaviour have emerged since it was founded in 2004.

Researchers from the University of California in San Diego, for example, were able to tell if two users on Facebook were close based on their behaviour on the website, such as likes, photo tags and posts, according to The Atlantic.

"The researchers found that comments were the most revealing of a friendship's strength, followed by messages, wall posts, and likes," the article stated.

"The notion that the Internet is, or ever really was, some other, cyber, space, is wrong headed," said social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson.

But other studies begged to differ. A survey from 2007, when Facebook had no competition from Snapchat or Instagram, concluded that face-to-face interactions were pivotal to forming close friendships.

Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University in England asked respondents to answer questionnaires about their online social networks. They found that 90 per cent of online contacts that the users had seen face to face were considered close friends, according to The Guardian.

"What social network sites can do is decrease the cost of maintaining and forming these social networks because we can post information to multiple people," said psychologist Will Reader.

Still, though the level of face-to-face interactions had declined in Canada, the StatCan study found that the level of trust Canadians had in other human beings didn't change from 2003 to 2013. Fifty-four per cent said that "generally speaking, 'most people can be trusted,' while 46 per cent stated that "you cannot be too careful in dealing with people."

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