Lockdown sees internet usage surge

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Online communication has provided a lifeline for many people through lockdown / © Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplashed

Since the first lockdown back in March last year, almost every aspect of our lives has been moved online. From lessons and work meetings, to fitness classes and concerts, there is a digital alternative to pretty much everything. There is now no excuse to miss out on the things you once attended in person when the world was Covid free.

With a heavy reliance on digital platforms and the internet to keep us connected and busy during lockdown, it may come as no shock to hear that UK adults are now spending more than a quarter of their waking day online – the highest on record.

According to Ofcom’s annual Online Nation report, during the height of lockdown in April 2020, UK adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online, up from just under three and a half hours in September 2019.

Our twitter poll found 82% of people admit to spending more time online during lockdown.

Kitty Coombes, a 21-year-old Student from Liverpool said: “I was definitely using social media more in lockdown than I normally did.

“I was literally using the internet for everything, like uni, my ballet classes, zoom quizzes with friends and a lot of shopping. I guess it was just the new norm.”

Libby Mansfield, 19, from Cornwall also commented on her excessive use of social media during lockdown. She said: “I didn’t even look at my screen time during lockdown because I would have honestly been embarrassed. I must have spent at least about seven hours a day scrolling on apps like Tik Tok and Instagram to keep myself entertained.”

Research conducted by Professor Yvonne Kelly for medical journal The Lancet highlights negative consequences of too much browsing time, claiming: “Greater social media use is related to online harassment, poor sleep, low self-esteem and poor body image.”

However, digital platforms have thrown many people a lifeline during the pandemic with some admitting they may not have coped without online communication.

Perry Johnson, an 82-year-old who lived alone during the first lockdown, explained how the internet was the only way he interacted with people while he was self-isolating.

He said: “My daughter taught me how to use Zoom to keep in contact with the rest of the family. Obviously, I couldn’t see them in person, so it was the highlight of my day to catch up on video. I would have been miserable without it and wouldn’t have been able to interact with anyone.”

Not only has the rise of a new digital reality helped people to remain in touch, but many small businesses have been completely dependent on an online presence during lockdown.

Katrina Smith, owner of Pearl Boutique in Liverpool said: “Without our website my store would have had to close. The website has actually been amazing, and I am so grateful for every single order/customer who has continued to support my little business online. I wouldn’t still be here without them.”


About Heidi Hewlings, JMU Journalism