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Consumer Insights: Technology and Daily Needs

This month’s public insights survey is The Root Cause Coalition (TRCC)’s continued effort to identify individual perceptions, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors related to health equity and social determinants of health (SDoH). These findings explore how individuals engage with technology to meet their basic needs.

The full report is linked here.

Below are the key findings

1. More than half of Americans say they use technology more frequently now than they did a year ago. The starkest difference is perhaps the significantly higher use among parents (75%) compared to non-parents (43%).

· This includes significantly more individuals under 45 (65%) compared to those in 45-64 (47%) and those over 65 (29%).

· It also includes significantly more individuals with incomes over $80,000/year (64%) compared to especially those earning less than $40,000/year (44%).

2. Of those who stated they use technology more frequently over the past year, a majority believe their usage will continue to increase. This includes:

· More males (61%) compared to females (41%).

· Those under 45 (57%) compared especially to those over 65 (28%).

· Those earning over $80,000/year (64%) compared especially to those earning less than $40,000/year (40%).

· It also includes significantly more parents (67% compared to 39% of non-parents) and college-educated individuals (61% compared to 41%).

3. Americans are most likely to use technology to virtually shop for necessities and groceries. Similar trends hold here: those who are younger, higher earners, college- educated and parents are all more likely to shop virtually.

4. Roughly half of those who use technology to meet their daily needs believe it is better than doing the same tasks in person. Again, there are similar trends, with those under 45 (31% compared to 8% of those over 65), higher earners (31% compared to 21% of those earning less than $40,000/year) and parents (38% compared to 16% of non-parents) all thinking that using technology to meet basic needs can be much better than in person.

5. More than eight in 10 Americans are familiar with using technology to meet their daily needs. Those who are more familiar mimic the demographic trends of those who use technology to meet basic needs.

· Individuals under 45 report significantly more familiarity (59% say very familiar) compared to other age groups (32% of those 45-64 and 20% of those over 65).

· The same holds true for higher earners, college-educated and parents (65%) compared to non-parents (33%).

6. A strong majority of Americans say they have access to electronic devices that help them meet their daily needs. This is true across demographics but is significantly higher for whites (86%) compared to Blacks (74%) and Hispanics (78%). Nine percent of those earning less than $40,000/year say they don’t have enough access to electronic devices. This is significantly more than other – higher – income brackets.

7. Of the people who do not use technology to meet daily needs, almost three out of four say it is because they have no interest in doing so; over one-third say they don’t have enough money.

· Of those who say they don’t have any interest in using technology to meet daily needs, it is significantly higher among those over 65 (87% compared to 56% of those under 45)

· And of those who do not have money to purchase electronic devices, the number is much higher among those who are lower income earners (44% of those earning $40,000/year or less compared to just 6% of those who earn over $80,000/year)

8. More than four in ten of those who use technology to meet their daily needs indicated they use their mobile phones most often.

· Mobile phones have slightly less use among men, and laptop computers have slightly higher use among men compared to females.

9. More than six in 10 Americans indicated that they used video chats to keep up with family and friends during the pandemic.

· Among those who say they only saw friends and family via video chats, the findings skew significantly higher among those who are younger, higher income earners, college-educated and parents.

· Those earning less than $40,000/year were more likely not to use video chats with individuals outside their household.

· Additionally, 1 in 10 individuals in this lowest income bracket studied said that they did not keep up with friends and family outside their household – this was a significantly higher percentage compared to other income brackets (only 2% of those earning over $80,000/year indicated this).

10. Nearly half who used video chats to keep up with family during COVID-19 say they will continue to do so. Parents seem to have a larger appetite for continuing to use video chats to keep up with family and friends compared to non-parents – they anticipate keeping up more and plan to teach other family members how to use video chat. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) non-parents said they don’t enjoy using video chats compared to only 9% of non-parents.

1,000 interviews among adults age 18+ were conducted in September 2021 using an online survey. The results were weighted to ensure proportional responses. The Bayesian confidence interval for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95% confidence level.


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