Staying connected in a disconnected world

How technology has helped Queenslanders deal with isolation.

The coronavirus pandemic forced people from across the globe into their homes and away from social interactions.

As a result, many took to technology to fill the void left by the loss of human-to-human contact and social gatherings.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Digital Media Research Centre Associate Professor Daniel Angus said people, both socially and workwise, had flocked to video conferencing technology.

“Video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become increasingly popular with people looking to maintain a social presence and remain connected with friends and family,” Prof. Angus said.

“I have seen people watching television shows together online and playing video, board and card games virtually with their friends.

“It highlights the maturity of the technology and how easy it’s been for people to adopt it into their daily routine.”

Staying connected

Prof. Angus said it was important people in isolation did not forget the importance of communications in maintaining copresence.

“For all of us, it’s incumbent on us to be making an effort to stay connected,” he said.

“We have to be careful we don’t become further isolated and continue reaching out to friends, family and often forgotten groups among the current crisis, such as the elderly and people living alone.

“For many, there is this assumption that you’re stuck at home with your kids, but that’s not the case for more than one million Australians who are singles living alone.”

Your_place_TECHNOLOGY

QUT School of Psychology and Counselling Associate Professor Trish Obst said research showed up to 50 percent of people’s mental health and wellbeing could be attributed to the quality of their social interactions.

“It’s a huge issue for lots of Queenslanders as we often take for granted that incidental connectedness you get just going to the workplace or school,” Prof. Obst said.

“The major concerns for us at the moment are managing stress and anxiety levels, which are high with the uncertainty going on in the world.

“Isolation can also lead to higher levels of depression.”

Prof. Obst said while “technology would never replace human interactions”, it was imperative to maintain connections with peers.

“The pandemic has proven that we are adaptable and can keep communications going online, but there is still no replacement for human-to-human interactions,” she said.

Staying connected