It goes without saying that 2020 has not been the year any of us expected. As our habits and routines drifted between 'normal', 'not normal' and, 'a new normal', we've seen shockwaves ripple across every industry.
With these changes have come huge shifts in how we use technology too. For many, digital devices have proven invaluable during nationally imposed lockdowns, playing a key role in not only fostering connection with loved ones, but also in providing a virtual access point to the world before, during and beyond quarantine.
In July, Samsung Electronics UK Ltd released new research, stating that 69% of British people were using their TVs differently than before. The study, based on 2,000 UKadults, also revealed that one in ten participants were using gameplay to engage and connect, and that for one in six, the television had become their primary source of contact with friends and family living in different households.
But this is not all. With the closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and more, it appears the humble box took on the roles of educator and entertainer, too. Half of the Brits surveyed were leveraging screen time to master new skills, using tutorials and online content to learn anything from crafting and DIY to cooking, while 40% of participants shared that their children had been using the TV to access academic or informative content.
Working with partners, Samsung created a series of fun learning resources for kids, as well as content to support digital wellbeing. For instance, users can watch astronaut Tim Peake talk about his time living in space, or discover some of the world’s most impressive architecture with the British Museum. Kids can also put their design skills to the test and create their own amazing buildings using their favourite drawing app or even on Minecraft!
For Chartered Educational Psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen, recent changes in digital habits offer insight into how some people may have been "coping and developing" during this unprecedented time. “Samsung’s research reveals interesting patterns in how the TV is now playing various roles in households", she suggested. "From the popularity of shared and interactive game-playing, such as quizzes, to using screens for educational material, [to help] children to continue to engage with the school curriculum – TV screen time is unquestionably playing a central part."
The diverse ways in which technology continues to affect many people's lives reaches beyond the immediate context of getting through lockdowns too. In a second study, for Samsung's Alternative Careers Guide, which aims to help young people in the UK assess their options after leaving school, 71% of British teenagers said they wouldn't consider the 'traditional' job roles chosen by their parents. Rather, 85% of the 3,000 16-to-18-year-old participants admitted interest in tech-centric careers, with social media influencer and app or game developer coming out as top choices.
The normalisation of flexible working patterns during the lockdown has also had an impact on the young public psyche. Over half of the British teenagers polled in this second study said they wouldn't choose employers with a strict 9-to-5 schedule, while 48% said they'd reject jobs with no home working. In terms of education, 73% admitted they'd changed their study plans because of the pandemic, while 41% said they were no longer going to university.
As needs and expectations continue to evolve across age demographics, it is clear that the appetite for using technology to seek enrichment and access personalised solutions has been bolstered by the unique challenges of 2020. Indeed, while many of the lessons of lockdown may still be emerging, it seems likely they could continue to influence personal and professional decisions for years to come.
Samsung is committed to supporting youth education and is launching initiatives such as Samsung Not a School, running for its second year in September 2020. More on this to come soon so watch this space to find out how you can get involved.