3 ways people are using YouTube to learn at home during the coronavirus pandemic

Ashley Wiers / May 2020

At a moment when people around the world are spending more time at home, many of us are coping with the suspension of everyday activities, like going to school, buying a coffee, or even getting a haircut. Our new reality of doing almost everything at home is challenging for almost everyone. But millions of people are also seizing the opportunity to learn new things and tackle tasks they used to outsource. Watch time trends around learning on YouTube are proof of this.

While tutorials and how-to videos have always been popular on YouTube, in recent weeks we, at YouTube, have seen people turning to these genres to learn in unprecedented numbers. Here are three YouTube behaviors we’ve seen emerge while much of the world has been on lockdown.

Educating at home

It’s no secret that this is a turning point for online education, as students everywhere adapt to school closures. In response, parents are looking to YouTube to help instruct and entertain their children. And often, they’re learning something new themselves. From channels that offer daily live stream lessons and math tutorials to lesson planning tips from experienced home educators, average daily views of videos with “homeschool” or “home school” in the title have increased over 120% globally since March 13, 2020.1

A colorful stack of books. 120% global increase in average daily views of videos with “homeschool” or “home school” in the title since March 13, 2020.

Families with older children are consulting YouTube learning resources, like practical science experiments that combine teachable moments with creators’ unique expertise. And parents and students who yearn for adventure are embracing VR field trips to explore immersive experiences, like butterfly migrations and Tasmanian devil feeding frenzies, safely from their living rooms.

Replicating the essentials at home

Increasingly, people are also consulting online video for guidance on how to do simple tasks that they normally outsource. As a result, global watch time of how-to videos that include “at home” in the title has increased more than 50% year over year.2

A small blue house. Global watch time of how-to videos that include “at home in the title has increased more than 50% year over year.

One at-home category on the rise is cafe-style coffee. Around the world, watch time for coffee recipe videos more than tripled in March 2020, compared to the same month last year. Viewers are particularly thirsty for “dalgona,” or whipped coffee, which originated in South Korea but has become a global phenomenon practically overnight.

People are also seeking help with more practical tasks. Global Google searches for “how to cut your own hair” and “hair clippers” grew globally by over 40% and 100%, respectively, between the last week of March and the first week of April.3 YouTube creators are helping to meet viewers’ increasing need for at-home grooming assistance by sharing their experiences and tips on everything from DIY haircuts to salon nails. And while cooking has always been popular on YouTube, people are watching this genre at a rate more than 45% higher than the same period last year, turning to creators for help on everything from fast and easy meals to gourmet cuisine and specialty baking.4

Upskilling at home

Finally, with daily commutes, social gatherings, and sporting events on hold, people are devoting their time at home to personal projects and skill development. For many, these pursuits are brand new. We’ve seen global watch time of how-to videos containing “for beginners” or “step by step” in the title increase more than 65% year over year.5

A loaf of bread and a salad bowl rest on a counter. 260% increase in average daily views of content about making sourdough since March 15.

Which topics are people gravitating toward? They range from popular pastimes to niche endeavors. For example, watch time of tutorial videos about guitar have seen a 40% increase globally year over year.6 And worldwide, average daily views of content about making sourdough have spiked 260% since March 15, compared to average daily views for the rest of the year.7

When it comes to self-improvement, viewers are seeking guidance on tasks like bullet journaling and Marie Kondo-style cleaning to help bring organization to their lives and living spaces. Many are also taking advantage of the opportunity for more formal, time-intensive skill building, like learning to speak a new language. Google searches for online courses grew by over 70% globally between the last week of March and the first week of April,8 while global YouTube watch time for lectures on spoken languages have grown more than 6X year over year.9

While all of these trends are in response to the unprecedented times we’re now living in, we can’t help but wonder about the lasting impact they may have. Learning at home, for instance, may be a necessity for now, but this moment is creating a new generation of online learners and showing people of all ages that learning online is easier than they might have once thought.

The at-home consumer: Learnings from the global lockdown