This month, I have used the Internet more than I have in my entire life. From Zoom meetings to Netflix Party, my daily life has transitioned to an online platform. And while most of us are disheartened and longing for physical interaction, the world at least for now will have to operate virtually until the pandemic gets under control.
However, what does this mean for businesses, schools, hospitals and other institutions that had previously relied on personal interaction? Many will suffer losses, but those that use the internet to their advantage will thrive. And these changes are going to alter the way we use technology in the future.
Due to school closures in several states, including our own, students have been seeing the switch from a traditional curriculum to an online alternative. Platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet are being used by teachers to speak to their students and give lectures. These resources will not replicate a classroom, but there are features such as a whiteboard, chatbox, and screen-sharer, which make the technology close to a classroom experience.
Many have already realized the benefits of these types of platforms for future learning. So, I think we should be ready to see more online resources long after schools reopen.
The internet has also altered the ways we communicate, and we’ve been relying on them to stay connected because of social distancing. There has been a surge of internet usage for socializing. Relatives with whom people have not contacted in ages and long-lost friends are now receiving calls from people desiring to connect.
This socializing is not typical Snapchat messages or Instagram comments, though. While plenty of that is still happening, people are increasingly using video communication apps, as numbers reported in The New York Times indicate the newfound popularity of such resources as Google Duo, Nextdoor.com, and Houseparty.
It’s as if people finally realize the power of the internet. Even people who are not typically using social media platforms are now opting for them because there is no knowing how long this current situation will last.
Perhaps the most useful incorporation of technology, however, is the distribution of information among the masses and the way the health care field is using it to combat the coronavirus. More people than ever are using radio programs, news channels and online newspapers to stay updated on the latest information. Several news outlets are offering free access to coronavirus-related online content to help promote community awareness of the pandemic. Institutions like John Hopkins University are providing up-to-date information on the number of cases via a live map.
Hospitals and clinics have also started using telemedicine to diagnose patients via a video or phone call, reducing the over-clogging of hospitals and emergency rooms. While telemedicine isn’t new, many patients are relying on it for the first time.
Skepticism about telemedicine has long existed, but the fear of exposure to the coronavirus has prompted hospitals to take unprecedented safety measures. Given how useful telemedicine has become for making diagnoses, it may be continue to be used long after this is all over. Why drive miles from home when you only have a common cold?
Further, the role of technology has expanded to medical treatment. In Circolo Hospital in Varese, Italy, Tommy the robot nurse is being used to monitor patients’ vitals and communicate messages from patients to their doctor. Not only can a robot nurse limit personal interaction and therefore protect health care professionals from infection, it also provides new resources for making primary diagnoses in the future.
While the internet connection may be slower at your house right now and you may not be able to watch your Netflix show at the moment, know that the internet is doing its job in providing us with hundreds (if not thousands) of new ways to connect.
Amy Bailon is a senior at Davis High School.