Shifts in Technology Usage During COVID-19

By Muhammad Humam
26th March, 2020

With the implementation of lockdown or social distancing measures in many nations due to COVID-19, people around the world have noticed exponential changes in their lifestyle. Schools and markets have closed in many places and a significant portion of the labor force now works remotely. This lifestyle shift has resulted in changes related to technology usage during this period of self-isolation, particularly with regard to videoconferencing and mental health applications. This post reviews some of the major technological shifts due to this pandemic so far.

Videoconferencing Applications: Perhaps the most significant rise in usage has occurred for teleconferencing applications like Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and WeChat. In the first ten days of March, for example, CISCO's Webex reported usage numbers that equaled its monthly average, as per Daniel Howley of Yahoo. Out of these videoconferencing applications, Zoom has appeared to be a clear winner. As per Jordan Novet of CNBC, the stock market value of the company has seen a rise of nearly 74% this year. Ben Gilbert of Business Insider points out that Zoom was one the most downloaded applications on the App Store during the past week, second only to TikTok. The installation numbers for the application, Gilbert quotes Randy Nelson of Sensor Tower, are about four times more than Skype and nearly ninefold as compared to the numbers for Google Hangouts.

Mental Health Applications: Levels of stress have justifiably risen due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Tanya Basu of Technology Review reported from Megan Jones Bell of Headspace that user search for content related to stress has increased by 100% as the pandemic unfolds. Headspace, in response to the pandemic, has introduced a program title Weathering the Storm for people who might need help during these tough times. Basu also reports that Amy Cirbus, a therapist who operates through an application titled Talkspace, has observed an increase in her clientele by nearly 25% since February.

In addition to these two application genres, several other industries (and their clientele) have shifted to the use of technology. Museums, closed due to the pandemic, now post on social media under the hashtag #MuseumsFromHome while gym clubs, e.g. Crossfits, are providing online lessons, as per Cristina Criddle of BBC. Exponential as these changes are, their permanence after the dissipation of the virus is yet to be seen. While the current situation lasts, however, technology applications positioned to help people during this crisis will potentially have tonnes to contribute and gain.