5 ways people are turning to YouTube to cope while social distancing

Gina Shalavi / April 2020

In a global moment that feels uncharted and unfamiliar, people are turning to online video to adapt, cope, and find community during the coronavirus outbreak. Across content genres, YouTube creators are encouraging viewers to #StayHome, offering handy advice to help their audiences adjust to changes in daily life, and fostering human connection to help us all move forward together.

Around the world, these are the five types of video content we’ve seen audiences trending toward during the coronavirus situation.

Work-from-home essentials

As an increasing number of adults find themselves working from home, creators are sharing tips and tricks on how to do it effectively. From troubleshooting poor internet connections to equipment and organisation hacks to sharing creative ways for remote team collaboration, their advice is resonating. In the past week alone, global searches for “video conferencing” reached an all-time high on Google and YouTube,1 with no sign of slowing down.

Study with me

Students are adapting to a new reality too, as school closures have forced at-home learning and a rise in virtual classrooms. For companionship and motivation, students are leaning into “study with me” videos, a trend that originally gained momentum in 2019. Since January, views of videos containing “study with me” in the title are over 50% higher compared to the same period last year.2 And in recent weeks, social distancing and government-imposed lockdowns have given rise to a creator-led #WithMe campaign, offering entertainment and companionship across a range of interests. Whether you are looking for encouragement, a study buddy, or simply to be in the company of others, these videos deliver hours of uninterrupted companionship for people of all ages.

Meal preparation

Cooking every meal at home may seem daunting, but it’s the new reality for people who prepare for extended time at home. Fortunately, YouTubers are putting a fresh spin on cooking for yourself with simple recipes to prove that even the most functional food can be tasty and fun. Looking for inspiration, people around the world are watching videos related to recipes and cooking at a rate over 45% higher so far this year than the same period last year.3 As they gear up for what may be a long haul, these videos help them get organised and equipped to manage in-home dining.

Stress reduction

Between the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, its widespread impact, and abrupt changes to everyday life, recent weeks and months have given us a lot to worry about. Many are turning to online video for help in coping with anxiety and stress. Within the genre, we see people leaning on everything from the expected — meditation and yoga — to the unexpected — aquarium videos and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) content. So far this year, views of meditation-related videos alone are over 35% higher than the same period in 2019.4

In-home fitness

Those who regularly hit the gym or studio for a stress release are now finding ways to work out at home with the help of YouTube creators. More than 8,000 channels strong, YouTube’s fitness community spans all sorts of specialties, from high-intensity cardio to dance to sports-inspired fitness and beyond. Global daily uploads of videos with “work out at home” in the title increased over 55% after March 10 compared to the previous daily average this year,5 suggesting that even in these challenging times, people across the globe are tuning in to maintain their workout schedules.

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