As COVID-19 quarantine continues, desire for virtual community grows but loneliness persists

Latest Newsy/Ipsos poll shows more are turning to video chat, social media scrolling, and streaming services than in previous weeks.

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
Get in touch

Washington, DC, April 21, 2020 – With many states extending stay-at-home orders into  May or early June, a new Newsy/Ipsos poll finds that the number of Americans who are using video chat, streaming content on platforms, or scrolling through social media more often than normal has increased since mid-March. A majority report feeling like part of a community when they see family or friends virtually, but an equal number also acknowledge that they feel lonelier since social distancing began. The coronavirus pandemic has also impacted Americans’ views toward certain policy proposals, with a majority saying the virus made them more likely to support voting by mail.

Detailed Findings

1. The number reporting that they are using video chat more than normal has increased by double digits since last month. More also say they are scrolling through social media and using streaming services at a higher rate than normal.

  • Currently, 35% say they have video chatted with family and friends more often than normal over the past week. In March, 20% said the same.
  • Forty-four percent have watched streaming platforms more than normal over the past week, compared to 36% in March. Four in ten say they are scrolling through social media more, up 5 percentage points from last month.  
  • FaceTime and Zoom are the most popular platforms for virtual hangouts, used by 45% and 42%, respectively. Among Gen Z-ers, Instagram Live is the third most utilized platform (22% have used it, compared to 8% overall).
Increase in Number Streaming, Scrolling, Video Chatting More Often than Usual


2. Equal numbers say virtual hangouts make them feel part of a community, and that they feel lonelier since social distancing began.

  • 55% feel like part of a community when they see friends or family virtually – but only 13% strongly agree with this sentiment.
  • The same number, 55%, acknowledge feeling lonelier since social distancing began, and more (23%) strongly agree with this statement.
  • Before social distancing began, 38% said they would meet up with friends in person once a week or more. Now, 31% say they “see” their friends online at least weekly.

3. Parents are confident in their parenting abilities, but less so when it comes to planning activities for their kids.

  • Seventy percent say they feel like they are doing a great job of parenting, and nearly two-thirds (63%) feel confident in their ability to step in as a teacher for their child(ren).
  • However, over half (53%) also feel as if they’re not doing enough activities with their child(ren) compared to other parents.
  • Among parents that work full-time, 43% say their child(ren) are impacting their ability to work, while half disagree.

4. A majority say they are more likely to support voting by mail because of coronavirus. The pandemic has also increased the likelihood of support for Medicare for All and a universal basic income for nearly half of Americans.

  • Fifty-four percent say they are more likely to support voting by mail because of the pandemic. Just 15% say it has made them less likely to support this proposal, and a quarter say it makes no difference.
  • Nearly half say the same thing about Medicare for All (46% more likely to support) and a universal basic income payment (45%). These both represent a more than two-to-one margin over the number of people saying the virus has made them less likely to support these initiatives.
  • An increase in likelihood to support Medicare for All is highest among Gen Z and millennials. Support for the other two proposals is more evenly distributed across generations, though baby boomers are less likely to support a universal basic income payment.
  • Increased likelihood of support for these proposals is a largely partisan issue, with Democrats much more likely to support all three in the wake of the pandemic.
Democrats Most Inclined to Support the Following Proposals


5. The worry of contracting COVID-19 is causing a third of people to delay or forgo in-person medical care.

  • One-third have postponed or skipped in-person medical care out of concern of contracting COVID-19, and another 11% say they have considered this.
  • Half (51%) have not postponed, skipped, or considered postponing or skipping in-person medical care

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 16-20, 2020, on behalf of Newsy. For this survey, a sample of 2,004 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 364 parents, and question nine was fielded from April 17-20, 2020, on behalf of Newsy, with a sample of 1,001 U.S. adults. This poll is trended against a Newsy/Ipsos poll conducted between March 20-24, 2020 with a sample of 2,007 U.S. adults.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,004, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.9 percentage points for parents and plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for question nine. The poll fielded from March 20-24, 2020 has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mallory Newall
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]   

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs