For the majority of Americans (about 90 per cent), Internet is much essential during the Covid 19 lockdown period with many of them using it for video calls and others used the technology in new ways.
A new survey by Pew Centre showed that about 81 per cent of Americans said that they used video calls to talk with others at some point since the pandemic’s onset. For 40 per cent of the people in the US, digital tools took on new relevance.
The study also showed that 40 per cent of those who used video calls to talk to others since the beginning of the pandemic felt worn out or fatigued often. Changes in screen time occurred for Americans generally and for parents of young children. The study also finds that a third of all adults tried to cut back on time spent on their Smartphone or the internet at some point during the Covid 19 pandemic. About 72 per cent of the parents of children in grades K-12 say their kids are spending more time on screens compared with before the outbreak.
The survey found 68 per cent of the respondents saying that interaction through online or over the phone was generally useful. However, they did not feel this as a replacement for in-person contact. Meanwhile, 15 per cent of the people said that these tools have not been of much use in their interactions. Another 17 per cent felt that these digital interactions were just as good as in person contact.
Forty four per cent of the people said that text messages or group messaging apps helped them a lot to stay connected with family and friends, the survey said.
AFFORDABILITY AND CONNECTION PROBLEMS
The survey noted that half of those who have a high-speed internet connection at home (about 48 percent) say they have problems with the speed, reliability or quality of their home connection often or sometimes.
About a quarter of home broadband users (26 per cent) and Smartphone owners (24 per cent) said in the April 2021 survey that they worried a lot about paying their internet and cell phone bills over the next few months.
Affordability and connection problems hit broadband users with lower incomes. Nearly half of broadband users with lower incomes, and about a quarter of those with midrange incomes, told the survey that they were worried about paying their internet bill over the next few months. Still, the survey found 55 per cent of those with lower incomes saying that the internet has been essential to them personally in the pandemic.
The survey found that persons with a bachelor’s or advanced degree are about twice as likely as those with a high school diploma or less formal education to have used tech in new or different ways during the pandemic.
The survey found that not all Americans believe they have key tech skills. About 26 per cent of the respondents said that they need someone else’s help to set up or show them how to use a new computer, smartphone or other electronic device. In addition, one-in-ten said that they have little to no confidence in their ability to use these types of devices to do the things they need to do online. About two-thirds of adults 75 years and older fall into the group having lower tech readiness. About 54 per cent of Americans, aged 65 to 74 are also in this group.
About 62 per cent of the parents reported that online learning went very or somewhat well, and 70 per cent said was very or somewhat easy for them to help their children use technology for online instruction. However, 30 per cent of the parents say it has been very or somewhat difficult for them to help their children use technology or the internet for this.
About 49 per cent of the surveyed people say that K-12 schools have a responsibility to provide all students with laptop or tablet computers in order to help them complete their schoolwork during the pandemic, up 12 percentage points from a year ago.
About 37 per cent of Americans opined that the government has a responsibility to ensure all Americans have high-speed internet access during the outbreak.
CHANGE IN PERSONAL LIVES AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
About 36 per cent of Americans told the survey that their own personal lives changed in a major way because of the coronavirus outbreak. Another 47 per cent said their personal lives changed but only a little bit. About 52 per cent of those who say major change occurred in their personal lives due to the pandemic also said that they have used tech in new ways, compared with about 38 per cent of those whose personal lives changed a little bit and roughly 19 per cent of those who say their personal lives stayed about the same.