Social Media, Streaming Services and Online Communication: How Quarantine Has Changed Communication Forever

Kayla Goldman, Staff Writer

Covid-19 and quarantine have changed the way we do many things, but the main concept that is being upgraded into a whole new realm  has been the way we communicate with each other. We have had to adapt in the way we can contact others, especially when we were in full quarantine and could not leave our houses. 

Along with regular communication, our access to things like concerts, broadway shows, and movies have changed as well. There have been multiple free concerts that are available to all, like the television program hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert back in April. According to Andie Earl, an eleventh-grade student at Montclair High School, online concerts may be different, but they intensify and improve your experience without the cost that was usually needed.

One great thing about them [virtual concerts] is that you can see the performer so much closer and hear them much better than when you are in an audience with hundreds of people,” Earl says.

These experiences were never widely publicized, if they existed at all. In some ways, quarantine has made entertainment more affordable. Multiple streaming services have appeared, though, making watching your favorite TV shows much harder to do. 

The use of paid streaming services has soared greatly since the pandemic hit as well. With more me at home, more people have felt it is worth it to pay for subscriptions with services like Disney +, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max. According to Globe News Wire, more than half of Americans say they are using paid streaming services more now than before the pandemic. The idea of no commercials is not quite so new anymore, but the idea of having every episode of every season of a show available to the viewer is still relatively new. 

Now more than ever, people do not want to wait to watch another episode of their favorite show. According to, there has been a 60% increase in television use during quarantine across the United States. There are many streaming services, most of which people didn’t even know existed before. Some of these newer services include HBO Max, Peacock, and Disney +. Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu used to be the top streaming services, with Netflix leading the way, but now popular shows from these services are moving to the services of their original channels, making it much harder to watch all of your favorite shows. With popular shows spread throughout the services everything has become much more expensive and spread out, as opposed to cable where everything is in one place. 

Along with new streaming services being created for more online entertainment, social media is becoming more popular than ever. TikTok is thriving in this pandemic, as well as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms. Teenagers have turned to social media in general as a great way for us to communicate with others around us or people we don’t know. 

“I am on it (TikTok) constantly creating videos or watching them,” Zella Kaufman, a ninth grade student at Montclair High School, admits, “I use it as my main source of entertainment.”. 

Other apps that are used to communicate include FaceTime, Zoom, Messages, and Whatsapp. These apps were used even more than usual during the full quarantine back in March, when we couldn’t even see people we knew. Kaufman also describes that she was surprised by how well things like family birthday parties can go on Zoom.

“It has surprised me how smoothly online birthdays can go; I have celebrated a lot of family member’s birthdays over Zoom and they can actually be pretty fun,” Kaufman states.

These streaming services and social media apps may be fun, but they are very addictive. Television without commercials is specifically made to persuade you to keep watching by starting the next episode for you. This can cause you to lose track of time and not realize how many episodes you’ve watched, or how long you’ve been sitting in front of a TV. Social media like TikTok and Instagram create “For You” pages, which are specifically designed for you based on what posts you’ve liked. TikTok is considered to be more addictive than Instagram because of its layout. On Instagram you click on the posts you want to look at, whereas on TikTok there is an infinite number of posts for you to swipe through. 

Television is not the only thing that is being used more now. Many phone games and other applications have been emerging since quarantine, and while these can be overly addicting as well, to many kids they are a great way to communicate with others in these hard times. This has been very helpful to many, but has also caused our cell phone usage levels to skyrocket. 

We relied greatly on our cell phones this past year, and our screen time has been hitting high numbers. According to Forbes, our total internet usage has surged by between 50% and 70%. We have started to rely on our phones or devices for things that we didn’t use before. Alexia Draxler, a sixth grade student at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, says that she has started playing board games with her friends on her phone now. 

“We play games like Crazy 8 online with the Game Pigeon app,” Draxler says. 

Along with things like online games and communication with others, much of our schooling has switched to online. While this does save paper, students in Montclair public schools spend up to 4 hours on their screen for class time, and additional time after school for homework, making it a long day on devices.

Though many  have started to use our devices more, some have started to find alternatives of other things they can do outside. Avery Friedberg, an eighth grade student at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, is among those people. 

“I do feel I have used electronics a lot more over quarantine, however I am trying to see what other activities there are to do outside so that I can not be so attached to my screens.” Friedberg comments.

We have had to get very creative with how we socialize with others. Things we used to do inside are being brought outside, to maintain everyone’s safety. Some of these things include parties, games, movie nights, and dinners.

Though we are trying our best, communicating through screens is less enjoyable for most. Earl, Kaufman, Friedberg, and Draxler all agree that socializing in person is much better than through our phones. 

“I prefer socializing with my friends in person,” Draxler admits, “I feel like it’s more awkward having to talk to my friends through FaceTime, and just not as enjoyable.”. 

Kaufman agrees with this statement, and she says “I miss my friends a lot when I am limited to socializing through technology but it makes me appreciate it a lot more when I do get to see them in person.”.

We’ve been through a lot this past year, and one thing we can say for certain is that technology in this world will never be the same again. It will continue to grow and change, and this will change the way we communicate with each other. Either way, communication is important. That is one thing that we have all learned during this pandemic, and something we will always cherish.