Survey results: COVID-19 has significantly increased the use of many technologies among older Canadians

Description / Summary

From Facebook to food delivery apps and fitness trackers, older Canadians have upped their use of many technologies and online services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new AGE-WELL poll conducted by Environics Research in July 2020 shows that two-thirds (65%) of Canadians aged 65 and older now own a smartphone, compared to 58% in 2019, and most who own one (83%) use it daily.

During the pandemic, seniors have increased their use of video calls as a way to communicate with family and friends. About a quarter (23%) of Canadians 65+ now use video-calling on their smartphones, twice as many as in 2019; 6 in 10 of whom report increased use due to COVID-19.

When it comes to social media, so popular with a younger demographic, older adults are populating the platforms too. Over one-third (37%) say they use social media to communicate with family and friends (of whom 4 out of 10 report utilizing it more as a mode of communication due to COVID-19). Compared to 2019, they are more present on YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook (which 68% now use, up from 63% in 2019).

Technology Use

  • 88% of Canadians aged 65+ use the Internet daily;
  • 30% of those 65+ are streaming; over 4 in 10 (45%) of them report increased online streaming due to COVID-19;
  • 52% of Canadians aged 50+ had a telehealth appointment in the past 3 months, and 79% of those who had one were satisfied with it. Experience with video appointments is still limited (7%);
  • Over a quarter (29%) of Canadians 65+ use social media for “health, wellness and/or independence” (of whom 42% report utilizing it more due to COVID-19);
  • Among those 65+, 68% use Facebook (up from 63% in 2019), 40% use YouTube (up from 37%), 19% are on Instagram (up from 15%), 18% use Twitter (up from 16%), and 16% use WhatsApp (up from 11%);
  • 17% of Canadians 65+ use video calls on a desktop or laptop; 56% of whom report increased use due to COVID-19;
  • 13% of Canadians 65+ now use exercise or activity apps or trackers; one in five (19%) of those have increased their use due to COVID-19;
  • 13% of those 65+ engage in online activities such as book clubs and games; 50% of whom have ramped up these activities due to COVID-19;
  • 11% of Canadians aged 65+ use voice-assisted tech, e.g., Google Home; 18% of whom are using this tech more due to COVID-19;
  • 7% of those 65+ use food delivery apps; 45% of whom have increased their use of these apps due to COVID-19.

Current Attitudes

  • 48% of Canadians over the age of 50 are optimistic about aging (compared to 56% in 2019);
  • 66% of Canadians aged 50+ have felt isolated at least some of the time during COVID-19;
  • Half of respondents feel that technology has had a positive impact on their lives during COVID-19 (45% say neither positive nor negative);
  • Technology that “manages independence” is most popular, with over half of users of techs/services such as wearable digital devices, online shopping for essential items, exercise/activity trackers and webinars/online classes reporting a positive impact on their health and wellness.