June 4, 2020 — Working from home during the pandemic became an unexpected reality for millions of Americans, and while many want their careers permanently based where they live, hurdles to that goal remain, reports the first comprehensive study of the social and cultural impact of the coronavirus conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“The sudden shift to working from home has worked well for many, but success has been mixed,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future in the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Many Americans want to continue to work from home when the pandemic is over, but some miss the interaction and structure of the workplace.”

The overall findings released April 29 in the Center’s study, “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” revealed many changes – both positive and negative – in relationships, emotional stability, and personal behavior since the pandemic and safer-at-home restrictions began.

Looking specifically at the issues involved in working from home, the study found a range of benefits and disadvantages affecting Americans. (more)

As Center Director Jeffrey Cole explains, the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic combines three of the worst years in American history: 1918, 1933, and 1968. 

Our recent Coronavirus Disruption Project is full of countless trends, insights, and numbers.

One number stands out from the rest: 37%. That’s the percentage of Americans who—even after a vaccine is found and the pandemic fades away—plan to reduce their face-to-face contact with other people.

Once we feel safe (if we ever do) we may quickly revert back to old habits and behaviors. But, in the middle of the pandemic, more than one-third of Americans think they will be uncomfortable in large gatherings, crowded public transportation, packed beaches and swimming pools, shoulder to shoulder in bars and restaurants, full stadiums, theme parks, and movie theaters.

Air travel may represent more than an inconvenience: we may feel anxious in long security lines and sitting uncomfortably close to dozens of other people in a long tube for hours.

In short, 37% will view other people as a potential threat.  (more)

How much of our lives can we squeeze through Zoom and other videoconference services? A recent funeral marked out a boundary.

By Brad Berens

When a family member dies, the script is clear: you scramble the jets, cancel your appointments, lean on a friend to watch the dog, and get there. For me, that means getting to Los Angeles from Portland.

My aunt, Marlene Meyer, my mother’s sister, died on May 15th. She was 86, vibrant, still working as an insurance agent days before her death, not ready to die. Our family wasn’t ready either. We do not know if she had contracted Coronavirus — a maddening ambiguity — but we do know that Coronavirus changed her decline, death, and funeral.

I’ve lived in Oregon since 2009, always aware that the biggest challenge of being far from where I grew up and where my first family still lives would be moments like these.

The script is clear, but Coronavirus changed the script.  (more)

May 21, 2020 — While many Americans agree that the coronavirus is changing life at home on an unprecedented scale, men and women report significant differences in their views and behavior, according to the first comprehensive study of the social and cultural impact of the pandemic conducted by the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

“We are seeing many differences between how men and women are experiencing life during the pandemic – especially in their levels of concern about the effects of the coronavirus, what they miss, and what they enjoy,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future.

The overall findings released April 29 in the Center’s study, “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” revealed many changes in views and behavior – both positive and negative – reported by Americans since the pandemic and safer-at-home restrictions began.  (For an overview of key issues found in the study, go here.)

Looking more closely at the study’s findings about life at home reveals some sharp differences between men and women and how they are experiencing the pandemic.  (more)

(For comprehensive material about the Coronavirus Disruption Project Study — reports, PDFs, and releases — go here.)

Going to work: a commute of ten miles or ten feet?

Data from the Center’s new Coronavirus Disruption Project suggests that many Americans will never go back to daily commutes to work in offices, and as Center director Jeffrey Cole explains, that’s not a bad thing, either.

The phrase “going to work” has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Two months ago, most of us had never heard of Zoom. Now, for those who are working at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, Zoom is a way of life.

Zoom has moved into a rarefied atmosphere of the tiny list of companies whose brands that have become verbs: Google, Xerox, Uber. The invitation is not, “do you want to join me in a Zoom Meeting,” but rather, “let’s Zoom.”

The latest unemployment figures, the highest since the Great Depression, show that about 15% of Americans are unemployed. Other than essential workers (health care, delivery, police, supermarkets), the rest have moved much (if not all) of our jobs online. We made this move in a matter of days without preparation. Many of us did it without any prior experience doing our jobs online.

Data from the Center’s new study with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” shows that moving our work lives online has been a success — particularly compared to other activities we have been compelled to move online, such as school work.  (more)

April 29, 2020 – Americans coping with the coronavirus are reporting changes in their lives occurring in days that previously took months or years, a wide-ranging study of life during the pandemic conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future and the Interactive Advertising Bureau has found.

The study shows Americans report many concerns about their lives as well as increased loneliness and anxiety since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, but they also describe strengthened relationships and enjoying the benefits of working at home.

Titled “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: How We are Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” the study also found significant percentages of Americans who had never previously banked online or bought from internet sources have now been pushed into the online experience because of the pandemic.

“We are exploring the biggest disruption of our lives,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future in the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Daily life is far more disrupted by the pandemic than after 9/11 or the beginning of World War II, and anxiety is at levels only seen after Pearl Harbor and the Great Depression.

“Yet in spite of the upheaval,” Cole said, “we also found that Americans have positive views about their relationships and hope for how their lives will proceed after the pandemic ends.”  (more)

February 19 — Many Americans are willing to make significant personal tradeoffs to lower their health insurance rates or medical costs, such as agreeing to 24/7 personal monitoring or working with artificial intelligence instead of a human doctor, according to a new study on the future of health care by the Center released today.  

The center’s  results on health insurance coverage mark the first findings in a series of six reports this year that will examine the future of medical care in the United States.  The second round will be released this spring.

For details about the study findings, see the release here.  For perspectives about disruption in health care, see the column by Jeffrey Cole below.

From the Center’s Future of  Health Care Study.

Infographic by Kelsey Dempsey.

See all of the Center’s infographics here

Pioneering DVR service TiVo announced a comeback plan at this month’s CES, but can even the company that defined TV on the viewer’s terms realize the true potential of streaming video?

By Brad Berens

At January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, TiVo announced the release of a new gadget, the TiVo Stream 4K. On the surface, the TiVo Stream 4K looks like other “dongles” — Amazon’s Fire Stick, Google’s Chrome Stick, and the Roku Streaming Stick are all examples — that plug into a TV’s HDMI slot and let you stream until your eyes dry out because you forget to blink.

However, the TiVo Stream is different because it wants to integrate all the different streaming services into its own, “one user interface to rule them all” experience.  (more)

How quickly should one reply to a personal message received online? What is the appropriate length of time? And has the perceived appropriate length changed over the years?

We have asked this question in our Digital Future Survey since 2012… (more)

From the Center’s Future of Money and Banking Study.

Infographic by Ryan Robbins.

See all of the Center’s infographics here

In little more than a decade, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become an focal point for personal communication. Why do people visit them?

We asked this question of those who visit social networking sites in our Digital Future Survey.  (more)

From the Center’s Future of Money and Banking Study.

Infographic by Jessica Barroway.

See all of the Center’s infographics here

As the Center announces a major new research initiative about healthcare, director Jeffrey Cole shares the first lessons from the Future of Health project.

By Jeffrey Cole

We Americans spend more money to keep ourselves healthy than on any other aspect of our lives. In 2018, we spent $3.6 trillion on health care or $11,172 per person, an amazing 17.7% of GDP. Nothing else, defense or otherwise, comes close.

When bank-robber Willie Sutton was arrested and asked why he robbed banks, he allegedly was surprised at the question. He replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Health care in the U.S. is where is the money really is.

With so much money spent to cover less than 90% of the population at high costs, health care is ripe for disruption.

The Center’s work shows that industries with inflated costs, poor service, and inefficient ways of delivering their products or services are ready to be disrupted. Think of the music or taxi industries. Health care has all those qualities, and there’s a massive amount of money to be made disrupting the current system.

That’s why the Center, in a new “Future of Health” project, has taken a major look at the health and medical establishment in order to determine Americans’ satisfaction with health care services and outcomes -as well as the role technology will play in changing our relationships with doctors and hospitals.

Over the next few months, the Center will issue short releases on various aspects of health and medical care, as well as alternative treatments. The first release (here) examines medical coverage and user satisfaction.  (more)

The Center has published the tenth edition of World Internet Project report, the collaboration between the Center for the Digital Future and partner organizations in countries worldwide.

The 47-page study explores views and behavior about internet use and non-use, devices for internet access, years online, user proficiency, reasons for not going online, politics and the internet, freedom of expression online, media reliability, online security and personal privacy, and activities on the internet.

Download the tenth World Internet Project Report here.

The Center’s new 147-page “Surveying the Digital Future” report includes more than 100 issues that explore the impact of digital technology on American users and non-users.

New subjects in the study include views about using body-implanted chips for increased security, fake news, mainstream media, and regulation of social media.

Download the report here.

Nearly 60 percent of American banking customers would consider moving their money to accounts offered by familiar companies, such as online retailers, search engines, or big-box stores, even though they have no experience with financial services, according to a new study on the future of money and banking by the Center.

“We strongly believe banking is the next industry to be completely disrupted by digital change,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the center. “Our research shows customers are far ahead of the banks in looking to the web and apps as their preferred banking methods. Download the Future of Money and Banking Report here.

Center director Jeffrey Cole explores transformation of the media for the keynote address at the leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

View the video here.