Social media revolution making life better for British expats, study finds

by Ray Clancy on May 13, 2014

The increased use of social media revolution means British expats never feel far from home, with 89% saying they enjoy a better life abroad thanks to new technology.

Some 90% of British expats own three or more personal technology devices and 79% feel social media apps improve their quality of life considerably.

The study from NatWest International Personal Banking also shows that 81% of British expats stay in the loop by watching British TV abroad.

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79% of British expats feel social media improves their quality of life

Overall, 78% claim the main benefit of personal technology is that it allows them to stay connected with friends and family. Some 69% claim that it makes life easier to organise and manage, whilst 64% say that it provides them with lifelines when they need them.

The top three devices are a personal computer, smartphone and laptop with 91%, 87%, and 83% of expats owning each respectively. Some 53% have a tablet and 48% a notebook. Over half, 58%, of those who own three or more personal technology devices are between the ages of 25 to 45, whilst those over the age of 56 account for only 10%.

The Quality of Life Report, carried out in conjunction with the Centre for Future Studies, reveals that many British expats are also enjoying the benefits of apps, using them for a variety of activities in their day to day lives. 79% of expats use social media and blogging apps to stay in touch with friends and family, saying that apps improve their quality of life. 80% of expats belong to at least two social networks, with Facebook being the most popular at 79%, followed closely by Twitter at 74% and Google+ at 65%.

‘It’s evident that social networking sites and apps have revolutionised the way in which British expats keep in touch with friends and family, as well as how they interact with their new social circle,’ said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

‘The world of social media doesn’t follow the same rules as other forms of personal technology. There are no time zones to respect; there are no limits on how much multimedia can be uploaded, or how many people can be spoken to at once. And now that expats can access these social sites on-the-go through their smart devices, the opportunities to stay in touch with family, friends and interact with their local community are virtually limitless,’ he added.

However, whilst many use apps predominantly for socialising, others are using them for more practical purposes. Some 75% use them for currency conversions, while 56% use them for shopping and 44% for navigation.

It is also evident that many appreciate being able to manage their finances through apps, with almost 38% of British expats using banking apps to do this. But the old generation are not so keen on submitting bank account details in cyber space, with people aged over 50 accounting for only 6% of all mobile banking users, despite representing a quarter of all mobile phone users.

Whilst social networks have proven to be a great way for expats to stay in the loop with those back home, 81% rely on watching British TV in order to keep them up to date. Some 14% say that they enjoy British TV a lot of the time, whilst 67% say they watch only sometimes. The most popular include news, sport, comedy, soaps, dramas and children’s programmes.

‘It’s great that advances in technology have meant that so many British expats can enjoy British TV and bring this little piece of home along with them. Essentially, personal technology means that the majority of British expats are now enjoying a better quality of life than previous generations who couldn’t benefit from this advantage 20 years ago. It’s exciting to think what it will be like in another 20 years’ time,’ said Isley.

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