The last nine months have been a doozy. The news cycle in America (and around the globe) has been intense and frankly a rollercoaster of changes, whether of opinions, emotions, or rules to live by. What has been the response of Americans to all this? Unplug. From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in February, the percentage of U.S. adults who said they deliberately unplug from devices on a daily basis began to climb. In fact, in March it surpassed the number of people who say they never unplug, which had been the most common response from Americans in the few months leading up to the outbreak. Clearly, something had to give.
September was the first month since the onset of the pandemic where daily unpluggers and those who never unplug were equally divided, but early October numbers (first two weeks) indicate this equality will be short-lived.
Unplugging from tech is a behavior CivicScience has been tracking for years. Year-over-year data show a long stretch of those who never unplug hitting 40% or higher. When did non-unpluggers hit their peak? 2016, which also happened to be an election year.
As our nation approaches another presidential election, while also dealing with the effects of a global crisis, it will be interesting to see how these numbers might change again.
Whether related or unrelated to current events, people who have recently reported less stress and significantly higher levels of happiness appear to unplug from tech at a higher rate than those who are more stressed and less happy.
Although, those who make an effort to disconnect from their devices at least a few times a month report greater levels of concern about the pandemic: more concern over the spread of the virus, being in public, and so forth.
Parents, many of whom are doubling as teachers or caretakers while also working their day jobs, show significantly higher rates of checking out from devices daily than their counterparts without kids. A day full of work plus Zoom classes and homework help might just put today’s moms and dads over their threshold.
And lastly, whether or not you are a Mac or a PC person will say a lot about your relationship with digital devices.
Right now many people have the ability to take a step back from the noise of phones, laptops, TVs, and the like. As the culture becomes more reliant on technology, will it become more difficult to disconnect or more imperative? Only time will tell.