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New digital skills learned in lockdown to be carried forward, research suggests

By Martyn Landi
Lockdown has led to many people developing new digital skills they plan to keep using, new data from BT suggests.
The telecoms giant and its mobile network EE has published new data on people’s digital habits as the UK reached 100 days of lockdown.

The research found that half of those asked said they believed their digital skills had changed for the better and 35% said they had discovered a new skill they would continue to keep using them after lockdown, such as mobile banking or using online GP services.

According to BT’s data, communication has been a vital resource for many during lockdown, with the company reporting a 90% increase in phone calls lasting over five minutes compared to February, before lockdown restrictions were in place.

In addition, it said the use of video conferencing platform Zoom went up five-fold on EE’s network.

The research also revealed how some have adapted to social distancing measures, with a 70% increase reported in the use of dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Match, Hinge and Grindr, and one in ten 16 to 24-year-olds revealing they had tried a virtual date over video calling.

As well as socialising, the research shows that seven in 10 said they had used fitness technology to stay active during lockdown, including using virtual workout programmes.

Work patterns have also changed during lockdown, BT’s figures suggest, with the firm’s data showing the spike in calls over Wi-Fi now taking place at 9am rather 8am, as it was pre-lockdown, while half of those asked said they felt they now had a better work-life balance.

Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, said: “The past 100 days have completely changed how we live and interact with each other.

“We’ve all had to adapt how we go about our daily lives, from the ways we learn, work, shop, keep active to how we connect with each other.

“Technology has been key to navigating this new world and as a nation we’ve been embracing its potential with over a third of us developing new skills.

“It’s clear that the service we provide has never been more important to our customers.

“From keeping connected to staying educated and entertained, I’m proud that we’ve served the nation.

“Across our brands we have introduced over 20 new initiatives to help the country adapt during these tough times and continue to help as we return to a new normality.”
(PA)