According to Facebook’s analytic department, total messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month in countries that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. (Contributed)

According to Facebook’s analytic department, total messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month in countries that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. (Contributed)

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

For weeks health officials across the country have been urging Canadians to stay inside and practise social distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Social inclusion plays a big factor on a person’s mental well-being, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Research suggests that when people don’t feel they belong socially, their mental health is often affected, stated CMHA.

“Therefore, while we’re being advised to participate in ‘social distancing’, it’s important for our mental health to remain socially connected while maintaining a physical distance,” read a release from CMHA.

This is why Canadians are now relying on social media to stay connected more than ever before, sharing texts, memes and often arranging routine video chats with friends to stave off feelings of loneliness that come with long-term isolation.

According to Facebook’s analytics department, overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month in countries that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. In those same locations, voice and video calls have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.

Across all social media platforms, WhatsApp is experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Overall, WhatsApp has seen a 40 per cent increase in usage, according to Kantar.com — a leading data, insights and consulting company.

People are also turning to new platforms such as Zoom, a popular app among video chat users. The Zoom app is currently the top free app in the Apple App Store and new data indicates that daily usage was up more than 300 per cent compared to before the pandemic forced workers into their homes, according to MarketWatch.com.

READ MORE: Kelowna takes action to protect businesses from crime during COVID-19 pandemic

Edwin Hodge, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Victoria said he’s already seen the sociological implications that social distancing has had on B.C. as people begin to normalize these extraordinary circumstances.

Hodge said he’s seen a change in how people approach one another physically. He states that when social distancing recommendations were put into place, people would be awkward about it, often giggling over the obscurity of the physical distance during their interaction.

Now, when you watch people walking around, they keep the social distance without even thinking about it anymore, said Hodge — it’s become normal.

“We adapt to changing conditions quickly and develop new norms. We now see it as rude or even dangerous for people to step within that two-metre space.”

Physical interactions are being warned against by both the provincial and federal governments, this has prompted a new emergence in the urgency to maintain social networks and connections through social media, according to Hodge.

“We know that we can’t go out and spend time with our friends and we know that people when we begin to isolate, issues with anxiety and depression begin to spike,” said Hodge.

“All you have to do is go on (social media) and you will see people dealing with issues (surrounding social isolation). These networks were designed for fun, but now we’re using them in a very earnest and serious way to maintain connections that we might otherwise be losing.”

While the theory is hypothetical in question, Hodge said that the world would be in a much different place without social media, stating that people living alone might be more vulnerable at this time.

“I think for a lot of people (living alone) they would shelter in place as they’ve been told before, but if something went wrong with them it would be less likely that they’d be discovered,” said Hodge.

READ MORE: Outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna agricultural business; 14 cases confirmed

Looking ahead, it appears as though Canadians will continue to live in social isolation for months to come. On Tuesday, March 31, the province’s top health officials said B.C. will likely remain under strict pandemic-related restrictions until at least the summer as a vaccine is still up to 18 months away.

Hodge believes that long-term social distancing may have negative repercussions.

“We can pretend that this is normal for only so long before people begin to grow anxious,” said Hodge.

“This is one of the tightropes that health authorities are aware that they’re walking.”

He states that while social distancing is having a positive effect on slowing the spread, the longer it goes on, the more frustrated and anxious people will get. He states that social science indicates when people get frustrated they start acting out in anti-social ways.

“We are intensely social beings. As a species, we need to be around each other and we need to associate with one another. These kinds of crises really test that.”

READ MORE: Historical photo highlights City of Kelowna’s response to 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Professional hockey goalie Connor LaCouvee of Qualicum Beach. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach goalie Connor LaCouvee joins AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners

Backstop returns to North America after stint in Slovakia

The intersection at Moilliet Street and Despard Avenue where a 12-year-old boy was struck by an oncoming vehicle early November while crossing at a marked crosswalk. (Mandy Moraes photo)
City staff members, school district officials to discuss high-traffic Parksville intersection

Young boy suffered broken leg after being hit in Despard/Moilliet crossing

An acre of the former ‘Bus Garage’ property has been sold to Naked Naturals Whole Foods Ltd. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Qualicum Beach sells prime downtown property to Naked Naturals for $2.75M

Town to retain more than an acre of land for development of public amenities

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Another staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Nanaimo care home

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read