New research from Vodafone and Trajectory suggests people across the UK feel more positively towards technology now than before the pandemic, with the oldest age group surveyed (aged 72+) reporting the biggest increase of almost 20%. 

When it comes to staying in touch, younger people favoured social media; whilst for the oldest group, nothing beats a phone call with 93% saying this was the most important way for them to maintain close relationships with friends and family.

As part of its goal to help combat loneliness, Vodafone UK Foundation has also announced it will be providing Vodafone employees the opportunity to volunteer to Age UK’s Telephone Friendship Service. The service matches volunteers with older people with similar interests to make weekly 20-minute friendship calls.

This news follows the launch of The Great British Tech Appeal – an initiative from Vodafone and Barnardo’s which aims to redistribute pre-loved smartphones and tablets to disadvantaged children, families and support workers in a bid to help them stay connected and fight isolation.

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK commented,

“We’ve been working hard to help those who are vulnerable, lonely and isolated during this crisis.  Initiatives including The Great British Tech Appeal and joining Age UK’s Telephone Friendship Service are small steps in our goal to help to tackle isolation and loneliness, both now and in the future. It’s fantastic to see that all age groups think tech is having a positive impact on society during this time; and I’d encourage everyone to keep connecting to those who might be feeling isolated and alone, particularly in Loneliness Awareness Week.” 

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

“A friendly phone call and the chance to chat are hugely important to so many older people, especially now when getting out and about to see people is more difficult than usual. I am sure these new friendships will have a real impact on employees as well as those they befriend. Many older people need a lot of love and support to help them get through this challenging time and it’s great to see companies like Vodafone playing a part in this.”

The research asked 1500 people how they are keeping in touch with family and friends during the ongoing restrictions and their view on whether new technology has a positive impact on society.

  • For Gen Z (18-23), social media tops the bill followed by phone calls, messaging apps then video calls. 62% believe technology has a positive impact on society (up from 58% in Jan-Mar).
  • For Gen Y (24-38) social media is first, followed by messaging apps then phone calls then video calls.  65% believe technology has a positive impact on society (up from 56% in Jan-Mar).
  • For Gen X (39-54) phone calls top the list followed by messaging apps, social media and then video calls. 64% believe technology has a positive impact on society (up from 55% in Jan-Mar).
  • For baby boomers (55-71), phone calls are the most important at 87% followed by messaging apps, social media and then video calls. 67% believe technology has a positive impact on society (up from 52% in Jan-Mar).

For the silent generation (72+), phone calls are by far the most important (93%), followed by social media, and messaging apps.  45% have also used video calls.  71% believe technology has a positive impact on society (up from 52% in Jan-Mar).

Age UK’s award-winning Telephone Friendship Service matches volunteers with older people who might otherwise feel lonely or isolated, with similar interests and hobbies, to make weekly 20-minute friendship calls.  From June, Vodafone employees can use their volunteer days to participate in the programme and to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of older people.

The Great British Tech Appeal: Vodafone UK, with charity partner Barnardo’s, launched ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’ in May. It calls on the public to donate pre-loved smartphones and tablets for redistribution to disadvantaged children, families and the charity workers who support them. Vodafone will cover all postage and packaging costs; and will provide three months’ free connectivity for every device distributed. The Great British Tech Appeal will run for six weeks and will also provide devices to the British Red Cross and to services for victims of domestic abuse via the charity SafeLives.

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