During the spring 2020 pandemic, technology played a pivotal role in the recovery process. From the onset of remote work and stay-at-home orders for many Americans to video calls with sick family members, technology bridged the physical distance. In addition, doctor appointments, religious services, and essential errands moved online. However, there were concerns that the use of technology for remote work and remote medical care could contribute to tech burnout.
The Internet has been essential
The coronavirus outbreak has spurred many people to turn to the internet in the midst of the crisis. In addition to providing a way to connect to family and friends, the internet has also helped them find things they need. This outbreak has also reignited discussions of the digital divide, the gap between people with and without access to the Internet. This has led President Donald Trump to declare broadband connectivity a priority in his economic relief efforts.
As the world has moved towards an increasingly technologically advanced society, connectivity has become critical. Access to the internet has improved access to many services, including education, work, and health. Despite the importance of access to the Internet, around 2.9 billion people still lack it.
When the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, health systems began preparing for the possibility of critical care resource shortages. One question became urgent: how to ration ventilators. Governments developed policies for allocating this equipment in the event of scarcity. They also prioritized healthcare workers.
A lack of COVID-19 ventilators has been a problem throughout the world. Hospitals and physicians in many countries have complained of a shortage of this equipment. The lack of resources is problematic because it could lead to a significant number of patient deaths if life support is interrupted.
One study estimated that there are 880,000 more ventilators needed globally to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. A shortage of 75,000 ventilators in the U.S., France, and Germany was reported during the outbreak. This shortage has led to the rationing of medical services and goods.
Remote work protocols
In response to the current pandemic, many organizations have transitioned to flexible work policies, including remote work. Once considered a luxury of high-tech workplaces, remote work has now become the norm. According to a poll from Deloitte Dbriefs, 40 percent of companies plan to implement strategies for permanent remote work.
If you’re planning on working remotely during the pandemic, UC San Diego provides guidelines and resources to help you navigate the remote work environment. To start, contact Health Human Resources to learn about the policies and procedures for this type of work. You’ll also want to consider the needs and expectations of each employee in a remote-working environment.
Ideally, remote work should be done from a secured Wi-Fi connection, where possible. A trusted virtual private network (VPN) can protect transmitted data from interception.
Online learning tools
Despite the challenges of online learning, innovative ideas are surfacing for reaching children in remote places. One experiment in Botswana shows that low-cost alternatives improve learning outcomes. Another initiative, led by the International Telecommunication Union and Unicef, uses big data to track school connectivity and raises funds to close gaps. Meanwhile, open-source educational tools are available for teachers to use and adapt for their students.
The pandemic demonstrates that education is not yet fully digitally ready. High-speed internet and digital devices are required to fully leverage remote learning. Moreover, many schools lack the content and software that can make use of these tools compelling. This will change with more widespread adoption of digital learning.
The findings of a recent study have highlighted the relationship between screen time and mental health. It shows that for some, increased screen time has negative consequences, but for others, it promotes connectedness. The study analyzed 89 studies that involved over 200,000 people in the US, UK, France, Chile, Israel, and Australia.
The researchers found that children’s screen time doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research has shown that excessive screen time can lead to weight gain, depression, and diminished social skills. Therefore, parents must monitor their children’s screen time and limit it. One way to do this is by signing them up for sports or other physical activities, and by setting a timer. During family time, parents should also set aside devices and avoid interfering with conversations with their kids.
While the impact of COVID-19 on screen time may be short-term, its negative consequences can be felt long after the crisis. Additionally, it will likely take a long time for the economy to recover, complicating efforts to reduce screen time. As a result, the issue of screen time during the pandemic will be of ongoing concern to public health officials. To help develop more effective interventions, it is crucial to understand the reasons for the increase in screen time during the pandemic. Furthermore, the findings from COVID-19 will inform future interventions that are targeted at reducing the negative impacts of screen time.