The Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the entire planet, and no corner of the world remained untouched. In order to mitigate the consequences of the outbreak, governments implemented strict lockdown protocols in multiple areas. As a result, millions of people remained confined in their homes with little socialization. Older generations have been a particularly vulnerable age group in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why their confinement has generally been stricter. Having to spend most of their time at home, older adults have demonstrated a significant increase in the use of streaming services. However, it is discussed whether this type of content shows sufficient accessibility to this particular age group. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of streaming on the elderly in the course of the Covid-19 lockdown.
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In general, the pandemic forced governments around the globe to take drastic measures and impose lockdown protocols on numerous communities. Accordingly, people had to look for new ways of spending time in confinement in terms of communication and entertainment. Seetharaman (2020) states that the pandemic, namely restrictions imposed by it, accelerated the shift toward online means of service and product distribution. In other words, the lockdown emphasized the necessity of digitalization in the modern world. Indeed, today’s technological advancements enable access to countless forms of media and entertainment via the Internet connection. Therefore, online services, including content streaming, have become an effective instrument of reducing boredom and depression caused by the lockdown and inability to socialize.
The discussed issue has been particularly topical in the context of older adults. This tendency had been observed long before the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the year 2020, which is why it is possible to state that lockdown has aggravated a pre-existing problem. However, Beck et al. (2020) note that the Covid-19 situation disrupted the traditional order for millions of households, and many people reported increased anxiety, as well as sleeping disorders. Indeed, confinement is likely to have a detrimental effect on one’s mental condition due to the lack of familiar means of entertainment and communication.
On the other hand, modern online services offer a variety of pastime options, which would be an obvious choice for younger generations. At the same time, older adults may not be as familiar with this type of entertainment. However, streaming services have seen an increase in popularity in recent years due to their competitive advantages in comparison to traditional forms of media and content. Tefertiller (2020) states content streaming has made numerous users opt for it instead of television, and lack of advertising combined with a broader choice played a crucial role. The list of other advantages includes high interactivity, a larger content database, and the lack of fixed broadcasting schedules.
Historically, older adults were considered to be in favor of conventional media types, which is why younger generations served as the primary target audience for streaming services. Nevertheless, studies have shown a moderate increase in older adults’ use of streaming services. 33% of all adults between ages 55 to 64 and 15% of people over 65 years used streaming services during the lockdown, up from 25% and 12%, respectively, prior to the pandemic (“Lockdown leads to a surge in TV screen time and streaming,” 2020). The tendency demonstrates this form of media has significant potential, as far as the discussed age groups are concerned. Furthermore, streaming services have relevant content for older audiences and remain accessible to them. Middleton (2020) states that “UK adults doubled the amount of time spent on streamers during the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown,” adding that “older viewers were a key component of that uptick.” (para. 4). Older people are able to use streaming services as an alternative past-time activity. Since this type of entertainment is already popular, they can benefit from learning how to use this technology to cope with loneliness and boredom.
On the other hand, the use of information technology by older adults is often associated with particular problems. First of all, many of them are not familiar with modern advancements and find it difficult to learn. In addition, quality streaming requires a stable broadband connection, which is not universally available. The Conversation (2020) writes that “around 53,000 homes in the UK are unable to access either a decent fixed broadband service or good 4G coverage.” This issue is not exclusive to Great Britain and remains global in nature despite modern opinions regarding the Internet’s status as one of the basic necessities. However, Governments who are working with broadcasting companies are able to negate the impact of this disparity. O’Connor (2020) states that, in the United Kingdom, “all stakeholders have agreed on a set of commitments to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from Coronavirus.” Therefore, nowadays, there is a tendency to dictate the availability of online content for all communities.
In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s lives, which was particularly grave in the case of older adults. Having been confined to their homes, such people had to find new ways of entertainment. Statistics have reported an increased interest of this age group toward content streaming, despite reasonable concerns of such services’ unavailability for the elderly. Overall, it is possible to say that streaming is a rapidly growing market segment, and the pandemic has contributed to its development by allowing it to encompass new age groups.
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