Study: Digitalization, ‘new normal’ affecting Pinoy families in various ways

A recent study released last Oct. 4 by insurance firm Manulife Philippines found that pandemic-driven digitalization and new normal conditions are already impacting Filipino families.

Manulife Philippines chief marketing officer Melissa Henson

“The Modern Filipino Family: Exploring family dynamics and digitalization in the new normal,” revealed that when Covid-19 restrictions were loosened in March 2022, parents and older members of Filipino families experienced improved well-being while younger members reported higher levels of stress and digital fatigue.

“Over the past couple of years, we have actually been commissioning a lot of studies to better understand our customers and get a good sense of how the pandemic has been impacting them, their behaviors, their outlooks, their attitudes, their goals,” explained Melissa Henson, chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines.

Digital tools help parents improve work life balance

More than half or 54% of Gen X and Millennial parents surveyed noticed their well-being improved compared to the peak of the pandemic with 57% discovering they were experiencing less stress. This general upswing in their wellbeing is linked to stronger family ties and better work-life balance partly enabled by the increased integration of digital tools.

Case in point, Gens X and Y Filipinos found they practiced “more hands-on, more present” parenting in the new normal. Eighty two percent of parents even said they bonded more with their families and 72% attested they are able to take care of their kids more. Notably, 45% of parents used remote work apps as they settled into hybrid work setups that allowed them to work from home.

It wasn’t only their family lives that saw improvement, but also Filipino parents’ personal growth as they were able to nurture personal interests and hobbies. For instance, 41% of parents developed an interest in watching or consuming content online.

Parents also became more conscious of their health with 29% of them declaring an interest in health and fitness. Online tools are helping Filipinos explore this new passion as 64% of Filipinos surveyed were shown to access health and fitness apps and 31% also went online to buy life and medical insurance.

Filipinos’ positive experiences with online transactions only reinforced their readiness to purchase more insurance and investment products online. Many Filipinos recognized the convenience (45%), sense of security (22%), and protection (17%) that buying insurance online offered them. In the past 12 months, 25% of Generation X and 33% of Millennials bought insurance products online.

As people migrate more of their activities online, it was expected that data privacy would become more crucial. The study found, however, that Filipinos actually approve of companies responsibly collecting their personal data, as long as it helps businesses serve them better and personalize their experiences.

Sixty eight percent of Filipinos even agree with their data being utilized by advertisers as long as their ads are for relevant products and services.

Key-finding

Greater stress for children

Yet, while parents are emerging into the new normal feeling balanced and adventurous, 68% of Gen Z children communicated they are experiencing stress, fatigue, and depression and 55% noted they were increasingly irritable.

Two sources of stress for this age group include the return to face-to-face schooling and family life. Fifty six percent of Gen Z children surveyed said they are concerned with the return of face-to-face classes due to the risk of bringing Covid home and rusty face-to-face socialization skills.

Twenty four percent of Gen Z children also shared they are distressed due to increased family conflicts. These conflicts can be triggered by financial challenges, household chores and obligations, and work and school demands in the new normal.

Another major source of tension for Gen Z kids was online presence management. Forty six percent of the children shared that social media and keeping up an online image put pressure on their looks.

Sixty five percent additionally expressed digital fatigue, which prompts them to seek offline activities and interactions with friends and family.

A guest speaker during the release of the results, managing director and consultant at Better Steps Psychology, Raphael Inocencio, recommended ways families could lessen children’s stress.

He advised parents to be present and available to their children, check in with them often, and be open to hearing their children’s interests as well as sharing their own.

Manulife’s study, conducted in partnership with InSites Consulting via online self-completed questionnaires included 500 Filipinos aged 18 to 55 from all across the country. It was done in May 2022.

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