Video Games, Baking and Naps: How America is passing time during lockdowns

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
April 30, 2020, 5:30 PM GMT+0

Many Americans are spending more time at home in accordance to social distancing and safer-at-home directives from their state municipalities. As we enter the second month of lockdowns, YouGov surveyed 1,175 Americans on the activities they’ve been doing more of since late-March and what they look forward to when lockdowns end and businesses reopen.

The study, fielded April 24-27, shows that more than two in five Americans say they’ve been spending more time on social media (42%). This is the leading response across all generations including more than a third of Boomers (37%).

Many are taking the opportunity at home to catch up on rest and close to two in five say they’ve been sleeping more (39%). And while social distancing makes seeing friends and family difficult, many indicate that they have been reaching out more via text, phone calls, or video calls to people they typically talk with (31%) or to those they don’t usually speak to (19%).

Video games have become increasingly popular since late-March. Nearly three in 10 Americans say they’ve been playing video games more since last month and this figure is significantly higher among Millennials (40% vs. 28% of US adults).

Americans also say they’ve been taking up baking (24%), gardening (19%), or DIY projects (17%) more frequently at home. One in six people say they’ve been consuming more alcohol (16%) since last month and roughly one in eight Americans say they’ve been smoking more (e.g., tobacco, cannabis; 13%).

Millennials seem to be making the best of the situation by dancing more (15% vs. 8% of US adults) or recording videos of themselves or others (e.g., for dances or entertainment content; 15% vs. 7% of US adults) than any other generation.

What activities do people look forward to?

For many, life is still on hold but that doesn’t mean they can’t fantasize about what they would do when the situation improves.

Two activities are equally top-of-mind for more than half of Americans: visiting family and friends they haven’t seen since the start of the outbreak (54%) and dining at a restaurant or bar (54%).

Boomers are especially keen on visiting their loved ones (61%) and sitting down to eat or drink (64%).

More than two in five people say they look forward to going shopping in-person (41%), especially Boomers (46%). This bodes well for the dining and in-store retail, particularly since these two categories were hit hardest by lockdowns. The data also suggests that Boomers are the most eager to frequent and perhaps spend money at these types of places.

Americans are also eager for personal grooming: 40 percent say they look forward to going to the barber or salon. Many are also feeling the travel bug: nearly two in five say they want to take a trip somewhere within the country (38%) and at least one in six say they are eager to vacation somewhere outside the country (17%).

Others crave a return to normalcy whether it be going to a movie (30%) or visiting a coffee shop or bakery (29%), or going to the beach (24%). Other popular activities people look forward to include returning to work (18%), going to a concert (18%), or going to the gym (18%).

Methodology: The survey is based on the interviews of 1,175 US adults aged 18 and over between April 24-27, 2020. All interviews were conducted online and the results have been weighed to be nationally representative. See the full results here.

Explore the latest public opinion polling on the topic of COVID-19:

Image: Getty