Two Studies Reveal the Impact of Conferencing Technology on Consumers During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Volumes have been written about how the pro AV industry rapidly improved conferencing and collaboration technology, and how businesses adapted it, during the darkest days of the pandemic. What is often overlooked, though, is the levels at which consumers embraced it to combat isolation. Now, two extensive studies are shedding light on how such applications helped people maintain their mental well-being and combat social isolation.
As reported by LiveMint, the University of Stirling, Scotland surveyed 1,429 participants - 84 percent (1,198) of whom were over 60 - and found many using video conferencing applications to increase contact with existing social networks, while others reconnected with previous networks. Participants reported that the lockdown led them to engage with neighbors and other members of their communities for the first time using AV technology.
Funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office's Rapid Research in COVID-19 program, the study’s results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and examined the impact of social distancing during the pandemic on loneliness and social activity, including social support, in Scottish older adults.
"Our research found that the Covid-19 lockdown triggered feelings of loneliness in older people - with many experiencing less social contact and support,” Anna Whittaker, Professor of Behavioral Medicine, who led the study, said. “However, the study also highlighted positive outcomes. For example, lockdown encouraged some older people to embrace and engage with technology - such as Zoom, Whatsapp or FaceTime - to stay in touch with loved ones or participate in exercise classes or religious groups."
Those who engaged in such activity through online means, especially older people, were able to prevent high levels of loneliness and increase their digital literacy.
The University of Stirling, Scotland’s study was not the only one conducted that shows the large-scale embrace of conferencing and collaboration software to combat feelings of social isolation. Zoom and Qualtrics Research released their own titled ‘How Virtual Do We Want Our Future to Be?' showing stats based on 10 countries worldwide. The report explores the impact video communications have had on the day-to-day lives of people living in the USA, UK, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, India, Singapore, and Australia and reveals the extraordinary challenges the world has faced and how video communications have helped maintain some semblance of normalcy and continuity of life’s important activities.
The key takeaways of Zoom’s report include:
- A large majority of those surveyed believe that even after COVID-19 concerns subside, video communications are here to stay.
- Celebrations, business, and education were the activities survey respondents most frequently transitioned from in-person to virtual.
- A large majority of respondents indicated that video communications were valuable for staving off feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- A majority of respondents believe that working in a hybrid environment will allow employees to fit work around their life - and they welcome that change.
- Very few respondents think activities will be virtual-only forever. But the majority felt that our lives will include a balance of in-person and virtual components for most activities in the future.
Read the full Zoom and Qualtrics Research study here.