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

About a quarter of Canadians 65+ now use video-calling on their smartphones, twice as many as in 2019

September 29, 2020  by CM Staff

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. (AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE))

TORONTO — 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).

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And with many seniors staying at home more during COVID-19, two in 10 (19%) of Canadians 65+ are using online shopping for essential items, like groceries, for “health, wellness and/or independence” (of whom 6 in 10 report utilizing it more due to COVID-19).

The survey results show that 72% of Canadians aged 65 and over feel confident using current technology.

“With these findings, we can set aside any notion that older adults are technophobic. Most are unfazed by technology and they are using a lot of it during these challenging times,” said Andrew Sixsmith, scientific co-director of AGE-WELL, in a prepared statement. “We were already seeing older adults using more technology, but COVID-19 is clearly a catalyst that is taking tech use to a new level.”

The new poll was carried out July 16 to 27 with over 2,000 Canadians 50 years of age and older. AGE-WELL commissioned a similar survey in July 2019 of Canadians aged 50-64 and 65+.