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

Security has been stepped up at both Kitimat General Hospital in Kitimat, pictured here, and at the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (File photo)
Stillbirth reaction leads to more hospital security

Staff, physicians facing threats and harassment

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of food packages in appreciation of the last year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations came via local Epicurean representative Kerri Weightman who collected money for the purchases. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Hospital workers receive food donation

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of… Continue reading

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Most Read