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. This trend is continuously rising in the MENA region, as search interest for “How-To” YouTube videos grew by over 70% since the beginning of March in UAE, KSA and Egypt10.
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 In MENA, YouTube launched a free, Arabic educational resource hub called Dorosi offering a library of government-approved material. Google's Teach from Home in Arabic has with tips and tricks from Google for Education to support educators with distance learning.
Families with older children are consulting YouTube learning resources, like practical science experiments that combine teachable moments with creators’ unique expertise. Specifically in the UAE, search interest for “science experiments” videos grew by 79% since the beginning of March11. 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
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. Similar to other parts of the world, people in the UAE turned to “Do it yourself” videos, with an increase in searches by 350% during the month of April alone12.
And while cooking has always been popular on YouTube, people are watching this genre at a higher rate than usual. Search interest for cooking videos growing by over 50% in MENA since the beginning of April13 - more than 45% higher than the same period last year - and 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
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. In MENA, Google searches for online courses grew by over 300% since the beginning of March14, 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.