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Kids had excessive amount of screen time during the pandemic. Turns out, seniors did, too

Senior couple with laptop and smartphone sitting on couch
Posted at 4:12 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 19:32:21-04

We know many kids had excessive screen time during the pandemic, but now we're learning that seniors did, too.

"It was crushingly boring to tell you the truth," said Chip Perkins.

The pandemic was boring for us all, but Perkins said he often found himself with nothing to do.

"I realized several months in that I was spending too much time laying on the sofa with a phone in my hand."

He read about COVID, vaccines, and the election. He then realized that's how he spent almost every day.

"I eventually gave myself a cut-off time, and that was 10 a.m.," Perkins said. "If I wasn't up off the sofa by 10 a.m., then I knew I needed to get up and get rid of this phone."

Chip, as it turns out, wasn't alone.

Medicareguide.com surveyed 500 Americans over 65 years old and learned that 43% said excessive screen time topped their list of negative coping strategies.

Other things included overeating, excessive sleeping, compulsive shopping, and drug, tobacco, caffeine, or alcohol abuse.

"We saw in our survey that so many elderly cited using screens as a negative and a positive shows that maybe the high tech industry should put more effort into developing interfaces for elderly people," said Daniel Grunebaum, a data journalist.

It's his job to look through data and make it make sense for the rest of us.

"Find interesting and insightful patterns in that data and then represent that information both in text and data visualizations," Grunebaum said.

Medicareguide.com gets their data from both surveys and information that's publicly available.

"We utilized survey monkey, which is one of the leading survey providers to locate those people, and they have a panel of 20 million people they conduct surveys on," said Grunebaum.

From there, they filtered it for those who are 65 and older.

The other hot topic in the survey? Masks.

"One thing that surprised me was how reluctant people are to take off their masks, and we found that a lot of respondents said they didn't feel comfortable taking off their masks until 2022," Grunebaum said.

Chip said he plans on wearing a mask until next summer.

He also plans to keep up those phone limits, too, and it took a pandemic for him to realize how addicting our devices can be.

"Well, it makes you feel a little lazy, and all the news was depressing," said Perkins. The election news, the COVID news, it was all depressing until they had positive news about the efficacy of the vaccines."