Trending on YouTube: How people are using the platform to learn at home

Mark Wheeler / May 2020

Our new reality of doing almost everything at home can be challenging for anyone. But millions of people across Australia and New Zealand are using this time as an opportunity to upskill, learn, and grow. Watch time trends around learning on YouTube are proof of this.

While #WithMe content and how-to videos have always been popular on YouTube, in recent weeks we’ve seen Aussies and Kiwis turning to these genres to learn in unprecedented ways.

Here are three behaviours we’ve seen emerge while much of the world has been on lockdown.

A rise in creativity

As we settle into living life in a bubble, it seems many of us are inspired to find new creative pastimes. Global watch time of how-to videos that include “at home" in the title has increased by more than 50% year over year (YOY),1 and in a recent study, almost half of Australians said they believe self-isolating will allow them to rediscover their passions.2


On YouTube Australia and New Zealand, we’ve created a series of themed playlists featuring #WithMe videos from creators who are posting everything from self-care rituals and camera tutorials to their recreations of restaurant dishes at home, like Tonkatsu ramen.

Beyond learning new recipes — which 41% of Aussies have done over the last month — people are also turning to YouTube to have a go at DIY.3

Content creators like Sheri Vegas are gaining momentum with craft tutorials, and some of us are even learning to sew.

And like Sydney’s Charles Lomu, who learned how to barber through YouTube, interest in “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.4

Gardening in isolation has been on the rise, too. As we come across amazing stories like Cree Monaghan and Tim Hall, who turned a blank canvas of 100 acres in the Margaret River Region into a sustainable, regenerative farm and cooking school from watching how-to videos, it seems Aussies and Kiwis are turning to their backyards to cope in recent times too. Google searches for “gardening” have jumped by more than 105% since March 15, and the related #WithMe content trend on YouTube has seen views of videos like how to grow vegetables continue to climb.

People are leaning into e-learning

It’s no secret that this is a key moment for online education. Recent research found that 49% of consumers who regularly watch YouTube do so to learn about a topic, and since March 15, searches for "study with me" have climbed by more than 300%.5

As many students are schooling from home, parents are leaning into YouTube to help instruct and entertain their children, often while learning something new themselves.

From math lessons with the inimitable Eddie Woo to educational activities for little ones, there has even been a social distancing video by The Wiggles.

Creators are leaning into this growing demand for educational content too. Uploads have seen a dramatic rise, and videos like New Zealand’s How to Dad, featuring tips for surviving lockdown with kids and cooking dinner, are getting hundreds of thousands of views.


People are spending their downtime upskilling

Finally, with daily commutes, social gatherings, and sporting events on hold, people are devoting their time at home to personal projects and skills development. For many of us, 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% YOY.6


Which topics are people gravitating towards? They range from popular pastimes to niche endeavours. Across Australia and New Zealand, YouTube views on everything from handstand training to playing the guitar are on the up, and 1 in 5 Aussies say they want even more how-to content or tutorials to help them learn new skills.7

When it comes to self-improvement, viewers are seeking guidance on everyday tasks like cleaning to help bring organisation 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.

As we all adjust to life on pause, Aussies and Kiwis aren’t standing still; instead they’re using this time to hone and develop new skills — Google searches for online courses have spiked in Australia and New Zealand since March 15, while global YouTube watch time for lectures on spoken languages has increased 6X YOY.8 Trends like these help us understand consumers so we can continue to support them when they need it most.

4 ways Aussies and Kiwis are turning to YouTube to cope while social distancing