A golden age of harmony between generations has begun, according to new research.
Rather than being at loggerheads, 97% of under 25s and 96% of over 55s enjoy spending time with one another, exploding the myth that these two groups live completely separate lives, divided by vast cultural and technological gulfs.
Generation Games: Oddfellows Insight Report – the result of a nationwide survey commissioned by friendly society, the Oddfellows – shows that over 55s and under 25s get along famously when given the chance and both groups are keen to spend more time together.
The research also found that the two groups shared knowledge – offering guidance on topics as diverse as social media, maths, how to make do and mend, modern slang, dancing, snowboarding, knitting and where to get good tattoos.
Jane Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of the Oddfellows, said: “Younger and older people want to spend time together and benefit hugely from each other’s company.
“It’s not true that these two generations generally avoid one another and many of those surveyed wanted more opportunities to meet up.
“What we appear to be seeing is a golden age of harmony between the generations as these two seemingly disparate groups are recognising that there are mutual benefits to spending time together.
“These groups are miles apart in terms of their life experience and expertise but our research found that it was these very differences that made their companionship so rewarding.
“Technology is a case in point. Today, 13-25 year olds are essential in helping the over 55s to keep up to speed with new technology, it helps bring the generations together rather than driving them apart.
“In return, those in the younger age group pick up softer interpersonal skills as well as getting practical assistance with life skills, literacy, cooking and DIY.
“Our research shows quite clearly that the two age groups recognise that there are great benefits to be had from sharing their different skills and knowledge.”
In total, 37% of the under 25s and 29% of the over 55s said they wanted more opportunities to spend time together.
“Once together, the under 25s and over 55s find they have fun and want to spend more time in each other’s company,” said Jane.
Unfortunately, however, the research revealed that many are starved of the opportunity to do so.
One in four of the over 55s rarely or never spend time with the other age group, while one in five 13-25 year olds had few opportunities to spend time with over 55s.
“What is saddening is that it is the over 75s who value the company of the under 25s most highly yet have the fewest opportunities to spend time with them,” said Jane.
“Unfortunately, it appears through our research that, as we get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to mix with younger people.
“Given the enjoyment and benefits over 55s derive from the company of young people, and vice versa, this is an issue more people need to be made aware of. We also need to focus attention on how to build more opportunities for old and young to come together.
“Our Friendship Month events, running throughout September, is a way in which we can help bring people together through tea parties, craft sessions, walks and trips out, activities that are open to everyone, regardless of age.”
The report also asked what advice the over 55s would give to their younger selves.
The pearls of wisdom included: buy better underwear, be more glamourous and have more sex.
Their three top answers were: work hard at your education, enjoy every moment and listen to your elders, the latter an indication that, in their youth, the over 55s valued the wisdom of older friends and family. Or, alternatively, that they regret ignoring good advice from the older generation in their youth.
Life advice 13-25 year olds would offer their older selves included: you’re never too old to learn, stay curious about the world and make friends with people of all ages and backgrounds. The three top answers were: enjoy life to the full, listen and take opportunities when they present themselves.
The survey questioned 528 over 55s and 501 13-25 year olds.
To learn more about the Oddfellows and Friendship Month, or to view the report in full, visit www.friendshipmonth.com.
Featured image Derek Green and his Grandson Ryan Huskisson playing bowls at Boston Indoor Bowing Club.