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Boomers Need ‘Digital Detox’

Pandemic Phone, PC Use Higher Among All Age Groups, Survey Finds

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers shopped more online during the pandemic than before, a survey found. The healthcare shopping website canvassed 1,600 online Aug. 6-7 between the ages of 24 and 74, finding 76% of millennials and 73% of Gen Xers used e-commerce more during lockdown mandates. The prevalence of increased online shopping was lowest among baby boomers at 67%.

The vast majority of consumers are spending more time on their phones and computers since the pandemic started. Increased tech use is higher among Gen Xers (75%) and millennials (74%) than boomers (65%). Americans by a 61-39% majority said they need a “digital detox." The sentiment was strongest among boomers (78%), less so with millennials (51%). Gen Xers alone shunned the idea (45%).

A third of boomers use wearables to monitor their health, compared with 56% of millennials. Gen Xers are split 50-50 on usage. Apple Watch is the wearable device of choice among 25% of all consumers polled, followed by Fitbit at 23%. Apple Watch is most popular with millennials at 30% versus 20% for Fitbit, while boomers favor Fitbit over Apple Watch 24% to 18%.

Pessimism about the U.S. economy and healthcare system is pervasive among all age groups, the survey found. A third or more of millennials, Gen Xers and boomers think it will take the economy two years to recover from the pandemic. About a quarter of all age groups see the economic rebound taking five years.

More than eight in 10 Americans think the U.S. healthcare system is “broken,” the survey found. Millennials and Gen Xers share the highest degree of skepticism (86% each), compared with 74% of boomers. Consumers are evenly split between those who used telemedicine services during COVID-19 and those who didn’t. Americans by a 60% majority feel “more comfortable” about using telemedicine now than they were six months ago, and 54% plan to use to continue using it after the pandemic is over.

More than a quarter (28%) of consumers canvassed who binge-watch content prefer doing so on a nondescript smart TV over a Roku (18%) or Amazon Fire TV device. Smart TV preferences were highest among Gen Xers (32%), lowest among boomers (23%). Researchers didn't ask about telework habits during the pandemic, but 62% opposed sending students back to physical schools in the fall. Opposition to in-person learning was consistent across all age groups.