The world is undergoing profound changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures to slow the spread of contagion have affected the way we study, work and interact. This is the role that digital technology has played in this revolution.

Digital technology and social interaction

Isolation caused by quarantines and social distancing has driven the use of social media and information and communication technologies to interact with others . A study conducted in the United States in April of this year found increases in the use of:

  • Text messages (43%)
  • Voice calls (36%)
  • Social networks (35%)
  • Video calls (30%)
  • Email (24%)
  • Online video games (22%)

Considering all forms of remote sharing, 46% of those surveyed stated that their digital communication grew. They did not report reductions in use in any of the methods.

On the other hand, research indicates that younger people are more likely to increase their digital interactions. The same is true of women, those who live alone, and those concerned about their access to the Internet.

Notably, people are connecting more through digital video calling technology. This is most acute in countries with strict quarantines and in regular technology users. However, the report ensures that 63% of those consulted with lower digital skills have increased their communication online.

Some researchers suggest that online communication can improve social relationships when people use it to strengthen the offline ties they have with others This effect depends on factors such as age, generation and technological skills.

In contrast, other studies suggest that this communication may also have social separation effects. Digital interaction tends to be more impersonal because of distance. Furthermore, it is associated with lower levels of empathy and higher levels of individualism.

Digital technology and work

The current context and digital technology have also impacted how we work. 68% of companies surveyed in Gartner’s 2020 Digital Workplace Survey said they had implemented a digital work strategy this year.

In the Spanish case, a third of the employees have worked regularly from home due to the pandemic . Previously, the figure did not exceed 10% . Information technology innovation has been stimulating changes in the world of work for years. For the European Commission, the main ones are:

  • Jobs modified by new technologies. New types of work emerge from these innovations, such as outsourcing platforms .
  • Greater need for digital and soft skills. It is related to better paid vacancies and occupations with higher sustained growth.
  • Dissemination of remote work.

These new scenarios have some downsides, such as the risk of job losses from automation. Or the conflicts derived from teleworking. According to a study by VitalSmarts, people who work remotely:

  • They experience a lack of connection with their colleagues, excess distractions, and a lack of concentration.
  • They feel disorganized and often have problems with the technology at their disposal.

igital technology and education

Educational technology is here to stay. On the one hand, it is critical to studying at a distance. According to a QS investigation, 63% of people interested in training in the European Union in 2020 reassessed their plans for the pandemic. Of those consulted, two thirds had the intention of educating themselves online in European entities.

On the other hand, it contributes to e-learning and its effectiveness. The World Economic Forum estimates that students retain between 25 and 60% more information when training online than in person. This has to do with what they can learn at their own pace.

In the same way, it promotes the generation of learning communities. The digital technology results in the creation of knowledge among institutions, individuals, countries , and even generational groups. In general, the so-called technologies of the future have contributed to making education more:

  • Personalized. Instructors and institutions get to know their educational communities better using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and data analytics.
  • Accessible. These technologies make training more flexible, allowing more people to access it. In addition, they involve reduced costs compared to face-to-face education.
  • Interactive and deep. Tools such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality give rise to learning through action.

This is how digital technology has impacted the way in which people interact, work and study in the world. What accounts for the revolution that has occurred in the way we communicate and in these spaces.

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