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How does spending more time online affect our relationships?

6 January 2021

On Tuesday, 12 January the COVID-19 Committee will explore how an increasingly digitalised world, post-pandemic, might help or hinder social connection.


The pandemic has resulted in more of us spending more time online, more services being delivered online, and more automation being introduced in workplaces. Even when social distancing requirements end, these trends are likely to continue. Given that having positive relationships is one of the biggest determinants of our wellbeing, the Committee wants to explore how our ability to form and maintain social connections might be affected by digitalisation.


At 10.00am, the Committee will hear evidence from:

  • Professor Robin Dunbar, University of Oxford
  • Jane East, Managing Director of the Cares Family
  • Olivia Field, Head of Health and Resilience Policy at the British Red Cross
  • Professor Daniel Miller, UCL

Themes for discussion

  • What has been learned during the pandemic about how technology can be used to build and strengthen social connections?
  • What have social distancing requirements and the temporary closure of physical meeting spaces taught us about the importance of maintaining opportunities to meet in person?
  • If increased home working and digital service delivery results in fewer face-to-face interactions in daily life, what impact might that have on our wellbeing, and is any action needed as a result?
  • If increasing digitalisation results in the closure of some shops and other public spaces, how might that space be utilised to help people form more social connections?

Further information