Touchscreens and Coronavirus - The Facts!
In the last decade or so, our screens have ceased to be simple flat services used to reflect the online world to us; they are tactile things we’re invited to engage with.
Such is the ubiquity of the LCD touchscreen in 2020 that if you were to present a toddler with a traditional screen that wasn’t a television, they’d probably be quite confused.
They have been an integral part of our modern society for almost a generation now and appear everywhere from our living rooms, classrooms, and commutes to our fast-food restaurants and retail stores. However, attitudes have understandably shifted towards them in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the world still on high-alert over COVID-19, the thought of touching a display with our bare hands that could be used as a transferable surface for the virus is a legitimate concern.
But are those fears well-founded or could touchscreens actually be used to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus?
The bad news
So, can COVID-19 be spread from a touchscreen? Unfortunately, the answer is rather vague, with experts generally agreeing that the risk is unclear but concern is valid.
It’s generally agreed that if a person carrying the virus makes contact with a touchscreen then there’s a chance it could end up on the screen and transfer to the fingers of another user.
However, in the vast majority of public cases where touchscreens are used, there will be clear hand sanitiser stations set up to ensure people using the screen have sanitised themselves and killed any trace of the virus on their fingers.
The good news
As long as users remain safe and cautious there is absolutely no reason why public touchscreens shouldn’t be used. As long as users make sure they are washing their hands regularly then it’s a much safer option than interacting with a staff member face to face as the virus is most easily spread from person to person.
You might feel tempted to use a hand wipe on the screen but this is not advised as it’s unlikely the wipe will adequately cleanse the screen and it could end up damaging it.
The middle ground
There have been numerous studies suggesting that surface transmission of the virus is not as hazardous as once thought. Indeed, many scientists have stated that the dose needed to infect a person via touch is significantly higher than it is via airborne particulates.
Not only that, but there are touch-friendly gloves available that completely mitigate the risk and certain touch screens that can be safely wiped down.
There’s also the fact that, rather than button-operated machines, touchscreens have no nooks and crannies that bacteria can get trapped in.
Touch isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s simply another aspect of our lives we’re going to have to adjust to. Of course, there are alternatives such as voice recognition and gesture technologies, not to mention using our touchscreens (our smartphones) to interact with the outside world.
But there is no real comparable alternative right now for touchscreen technology in terms of reliability and usability.