The coronavirus has not only changed how we conduct our daily routines, but it also promises to alter our online behaviour. Being confined at home with no access to our favourite restaurants and theatres during stringent lockdown regulations, the world has gone online. As the Covid-19 emergency continues, the Internet allows friends and family to keep in touch and stay informed, it lets students attend classes, and it helps people everywhere accomplish essential tasks like ordering grocery deliveries or refilling prescriptions.
In the new normal, reliable Internet access is also critical for business continuity and survival as video conferences have replaced daily meetings and some of those who were previously office bound are likely to continue working remotely for the long term, even when the pandemic ends.
We connect for entertainment
People are using streaming services like Netflix and YouTube for entertainment and connecting with others on social media platforms like Facebook. However, where Facebook, Netflix and YouTube were increasingly accessed on smartphones in the past, creating an industry wide focus on mobile devices, computers and smart TVs are now the preferred devices.
Wanting human contact, apps that were previously not receiving much traffic like Google’s video chatting application, Duo, and Houseparty, which allows groups of friends to video chat and play games together, saw a pike in usage. Houseparty has consistently been in the top ten downloaded apps on Google’s app stores in the last month.
More reliance on services that allow us to work and learn from home
Lockdown restrictions have forced people to work and learn from the safety of their homes. School assignments are being handed out on Google Classroom and WhatsApp. Video conferencing and meetings on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams have risen steeply. Specifically, Facebook and WhatsApp have been used by South African schools and learners as platforms of remote learning.
People are also increasingly searching for more information on the current state of the pandemic. For example, a WhatsApp platform developed by the South African company, Praekelt.org to provide information on the coronavirus outbreak has been adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reach at least 50 million people around the globe.