COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of society in a short period of time, forcing people to adjust their lives – whether they were ready or not. And technology has played a huge role, especially for families.
Families have had to rethink and restructure the way they use technology in their day-to-day lives – from how they do their shopping to staying entertained to working and schooling from home. Each family has their own set of unique challenges and many have been creative in how they’ve used technology to meet their needs.
And just as an initial response to an event can lead to lasting changes, the way families used technology a few months ago may look quite different in a post-COVID era. In families where technology was seldom used, or the use of smartphones and other digital devices was limited for children, there may be a turnaround as the majority of people have been forced to take part in ‘normal life’ digitally from home.
Parents adjust to the changing working world
One of the most disruptive aspects of the pandemic is the blow it has dealt to businesses, leaving employers and employees alike uncertain about the future of work. With so many Americans having been laid off or furloughed, many are unsure if they will have a job to return to as the economy recovers. Even more parents are trying to figure out how to juggle working from home with taking care of their children.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, summarized what this looks like for so many parents:
‘The pandemic has resulted in what is effectively the largest “work from home” experiment ever conducted in human history . . . We’re seeing the effect on the internet, in terms of traffic patterns that are shifting. People are accessing more educational resources online for their kids; finding unconventional ways to connect with coworkers, friends, and family; and employers are being more flexible in how they respond to employee needs through more dynamic, cloud-based technology.
I think we’ll see these shifts last well beyond the immediate fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.’Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare
As working from home becomes the norm, parents will need to restructure their day-to-day activities to balance right between being effective in their job and keeping family life on track.
For myself, I’ve had to work out a flexible work schedule that blends in with the needs of home and work. It can be challenging and requires thinking outside the normal 9-5 workday many parents may have become used to.
The way we reorganize our homes to create spaces for work and school may persist and how we use technology – both the hardware sitting in our homes and the cloud-based services themselves – is also changing. We’ve also seen demand for electronic items in online stores such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy soar.
For job seekers, the way they are looking for work or planning a career change is evolving. Employers are focusing on marketing open positions through social media, automating more HR processes and enabling HR personnel to have a more streamlined workload. Those looking to reenter the workforce are changing their strategies to keep up with changes employers are making to ensure they can get the jobs they want. Many are restructuring their resumes and making them keyword searchable to give them the best chance of their CV getting through to the right person.
Educating children at home
Schools have also reshaped many of their formats amidst the Coronavirus and some changes may be carried forward in the future.
Students and teachers across the nation were caught off guard with unexpected closures, leaving school staff scrambling for online platforms that would help their students better navigate a distance learning environment.
One example is the Los Angeles Unified School District with incorporates platforms such as Edgenuity and Schoology alongside resources from public television to boost their existing curriculum. For some families, the challenge of distance learning has made them more familiar with better technology that wasn’t considered before.
The crisis has also highlighted the need for more reliable services and more affordable tech options. Better internet services and equipment such as computers and printers/scanners are a common request on emergency school supply lists parents have had to fill in for their children.
My family has found the infinity essentials/CDI program as an affordable source for refurbished Chromebooks and desktops that come internet ready with Windows 10.
The most pressing question for many parents is how to keep their children motivated through distance learning. This has required for parents themselves to see their children as students, considering how they learn and finding new ways to connect them to the learning material and keep them inspired. Perhaps this is a dynamic that we can hold on to moving forward.
Family fun nights, powered by tech
One thing COVID-19 gave us was some much-needed family time, something many people struggled to fit in pre-pandemic. Many people are trying to making the most of the valuable time with their nearest and dearest. While we can’t go out to our favorite places, many families are using technology to reconnect with loved ones far away, share memorable moments, play a competitive game with each other or learn something new.
Almost all the members of my family are gamers, and we’ve made game night a weekly event. There is no end to the choices we’ve had the opportunity to explore – from Monopoly to Dance Revolution and Overcooked 2.
Smart TVs and streaming services can give families access to channels that offer quality family programming as well as apps that allow them to read together with a little creativity. A family can access Kindle Fire HD through a TV with a standard Micro HDMI to Standard HDMI cable and have their favorite books in their Kindle library read to them by Alexa.
Apart from the screen, there are other ways families can come together with technology like the Smart Lawrence Robot, which is one of many products that introduce family members to STEM subjects in a fun and interactive way.
There is one view that says parents should be limiting their children’s usage of technology. However, one lesson we can take away from the pandemic is that how we use technology matters more than how much, and we can structure our lives in such a way that gets the best of the tech even as we emerge from the immediate crisis.