Technology: The Saving Grace of a Pandemic

Computers, and technology in general, are the saving grace of the Covid pandemic. In early 2020, schools closed, people began isolating at home, and employees were forced to work remotely, quit their jobs, or risk infection.

Thankfully, most homes had a computer ready to pick up the slack. Classes began to take place online, employees could work from home, and visits with family and friends were still possible via platforms like Zoom. Even better, home computers and the internet allowed doctor’s appointments, church services, and delivery services to stay up and running.

Let’s look at some of the facts that The Pew Research Center uncovered.

Over 58% of adults ages 18+ polled said the internet was essential to their livelihood and well-being during the pandemic. An additional 33% classified it as important. For the remaining percentages, they tended to have less accessibility to fast internet and personal devices. A correlation was also found between those who needed to attend a school or work online and those who found it to be an essential aspect. Similarly, those of any age with a bachelor’s degree or higher were more inclined to use technology to better their lives during the pandemic.

One poll suggested that over 81% of American adults used some form of video conferencing during the pandemic, with 20% doing it more than once a day. That video conferencing capability was used in different ways, such as general conversation, remote work, connecting with family, learning online, and telehealth. Those same people used technology in general (aside from video calls) to order groceries and other essential services, submit work, watch movies, play games, research, connect via social media, and attend religious services.

Pew’s research has unearthed an enduring trend of use. For instance, even with vaccinations available, families are still connecting via Zoom and other platforms more often than they saw each other in person pre-pandemic. Virtual funeral attendance has also risen and remains available even in places where the pandemic is currently under control. Some students, instead of returning to an in-classroom experience, have continued virtual learning as they outperformed in that environment.

Still, regardless of everything technology has offered, over 68% of Americans say that they prefer real-life interaction to seeing, working, and ordering over a computer. They agree they’ll continue to use technology when necessary but are eager to return to a normal lifestyle as soon as possible. 17% of people polled, however, see the virtual versus in-person interactions as equally fulfilling, while an additional 6% have expressed a preference to virtual exchanges over real-life meetings.

It remains to be seen how these tendencies will play out over time, as more and more companies offer brain-intriguing incentives to their online interaction platforms. We might truly be entering a more digital world, even if we still hang out face to face as much as possible.