COVID-19 is changing tech habits


By Carol Marak - Aging Matters



I use an app called SnugSafe. It’s a check-in service for people aging alone. Recently, Snug surveyed the members in their community and discovered how tech habits have evolved over the last few months. Here are the top findings, other surprises, and the overall results.

Top findings about how COVID-19 has made an impact on the technology used by older adults:

-48% of respondents have ordered groceries online, and 56% of them are doing it for first time because of quarantine

-34.3% of respondents have attended a religious service online

-Zoom is the most popular video conferencing solution (52%), followed by Facetime (46%), and Facebook messenger (28.2%). Interestingly, Skype (20.4%) was nearly twice as popular as Whatsapp (10.9%). This may be due to the North American nature of the survey.

-48% of respondents using an exercise app are doing so because of the quarantine.

What’s alarming to me is the amount of isolation that seniors are dealing with during this time. Isolation causes loneliness which can exacerbate depression. Before the pandemic, we would find studies about the negative effects of people staying at home all day and now, we’re encouraged to do so. So what can we do?

Today, the best way to stay connected is to follow the advice of the old AT&T ad that urged us to “Reach Out and Touch Someone!” The ad was meant to encourage people to make long-distance phone calls, which cost real money back then. While our real-life circles have shrunk due to self-isolation, our cyber circles are wide open thanks to FaceTime, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

In today’s world, people have organized happy hours and dinner parties over video conference platforms like Zoom and Skype, which is a fun way to stay in touch. Some older adults may not be able to participate in this cyber-connectivity, though — because of technical unfamiliarity, or hearing or vision problems. To stay close during social distancing, try writing letters or send greeting cards with a short note. It’s hard to distance and avoid close physical connections from those we care about.

I hope this will pass soon but hearing about contact tracing that our government wants to deploy has me a bit worried about the new normal.

Other findings from the Snug survey:

-60% of customers with an iPhone owned 4 or more smart devices.

-Those using a smart speaker, 90.2% had an Alexa-enabled device.

-Of respondents with a video doorbell, 88% had a Ring doorbell.

-Facebook is more popular (86%) than the next 2, Instagram & Pinterest, combined.

-Reddit (9%) and TikTok (5.9%) more popular than Snapchat (5%), though findings may not be statistically significant

-58.5% of respondents have played a video game in the past week.

The survey methodology: 352 Snug customers responded to the survey. All responses were anonymous.

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak is an aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.