As 2021 dawns, many of us were hoping for a brighter year than 2020. But in reality, we’re still a long way from socialising in real life, with this year’s Blue Monday (so-called because it’s widely considered the most depressing day of the year) poised to be the toughest yet…
Research from cybersecurity company Kaspersky has revealed that many people across the world are feeling lonelier than they did before the virus outbreak. According to its research, over four-fifths (86%) of respondents in the UK believe this is because of not being able to see family, friends and colleagues in person.
However, technology can go a long way to helping overcome these feelings during this period of constant change. In fact, eight-in-10 (82%) UK consumers say technology helps them feel less lonely. Technology has been particularly important for the older generations across Europe in helping combat loneliness, with 64% of European baby boomers and those over the age of 65, feeling less lonely during the COVID-19 crisis than before because of the help that technology has given them.
Yet, Kaspersky’s research has also shown that not everyone is quite as tech-savvy, potentially impacting their mental wellbeing and exacerbating feelings of loneliness. Over a quarter (26%) of UK respondents wish they were more confident using technology as it would help them feel less lonely.
“Our research shows that technology can alleviate some of the pressures the pandemic has created and help people feel less lonely. We’ve even seen people who previously shied away from technology adopting it at lightning speed as they seek to connect,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky.
“Services like video calling or online streaming have now become essential parts of everyday life. It is great news that so many of us are reaping the benefits of technology, but we must be mindful that people’s attitudes or perception of online risks may well not match their understanding of how to use technology,” he adds
“When used safely, the online and digital tools we have at our disposal can offer a great remedy to loneliness and lifeline to the isolated.”
For people looking to utilise technology to overcome loneliness at the start of 2021, Kaspersky shares the following ideas:
- Organise a movie night and invite family and friends to join you. Many streaming services now offer a ‘party’ or ‘group watch’ feature that allows multiple people to view the same content at once. Some have an online chat option so you can talk about what you are watching.
- Visit a new or one of your favourite museums by taking a virtual tour. Some of the world’s most famous art galleries and museums now allow visitors to learn more about their exhibitions and artefacts online.
- Attend an online concert or festival. From classical music to DJ sets, artists from around the globe are organising more opportunities for fans to enjoy a ‘live’ experience from the comfort of their own homes.
- Group exercise. There has been an increase in the number of exercise classes available online and participants can take part with their friends and family.
- Learn a new skill. There are lots of courses available online, from cookery to learning a new language, that people can now enjoy together as a group.
- Online gaming isn’t just for gamers. Arcade-based game sites encourage friends and family to come together online to solve puzzles or compete as they would with board games.
Kaspersky also recommends following these key tips to keep your digital life and devices secure:
- Protect all of your devices with a reputable and effective internet security product.
- Use unique, complex passwords for all your online accounts and consider using a solution like Kaspersky Password Manager to make this simpler.
- Do not respond to unsolicited messages or click on links or download unknown attachments – it’s always better to go directly to a website by typing in the URL yourself.
- Keep invitations and meeting IDs for group meetings private, and make use of any features that can safeguard your privacy.
- Review the privacy and security settings of any online service you use, in order to limit the data you share with others.
Further findings from Kaspersky’s latest research, along with advice on how to stay safe online, are available in the full Find Your Tribe report online. Those who need help can turn to mental health support services, such as Samaritans.