Health and Healthcare Systems

This is how COVID-19 has changed media habits in each generation

Reuters photographer Nora Savosnick and her mother, Chava Savosnick, look at their phones while sitting in their living room, as Nora completes 14-days of quarantine since arriving from New York, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Oslo, Norway, March 30, 2020. "The best part is that I'm getting a lot closer to you guys, and I don't think I would ever get this close if it hadn't been for me literally being locked down in this house. ... And I think a lot of people will come out of this knowing the people they lived in the house with better. And I'm very grateful for that" said Nora. REUTERS/Nora Savosnick SEARCH "SAVOSNICK QUARANTINE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.  THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. - RC2DWF9J03P6

Our media consumption has increased since lockdown has forced us indoors. Image: REUTERS/Nora Savosnick

Katie Jones
Writer, Visual Capitalist
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  • A significant proportion of the world's population is currently under some form of lockdown, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
  • As a result of these lockdowns, we're consuming unprecedented levels of media to keep us entertained whilst staying safe indoors.
  • Consumption is not the same across generations and the type of media we're consuming hints at generational culture gaps.

Media Consumption in the Age of COVID-19

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc across the globe, people’s time that would have otherwise been spent perusing malls or going to live events, is now being spent on the sofa.

Have you read?

During this period of pandemic-induced social isolation, it’s no surprise that people are consuming vast amounts of media. Today’s graphics use data from a Global Web Index report to explore how people have increased their media consumption as a result of the outbreak, and how it differs across each generation.

Media consumption in the age of COVID-19, by generation. Image: Visual Capitalist

More Time to Kill

Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.

Unsurprisingly, 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. Gen Zers however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.

Percentage of quarantine internet activity, by generation. Image: Visual Capitalist

Overall, younger generations are more likely to entertain themselves by playing games on their mobile or computer. Millennials also stand out as the foodie generation, as they are the most likely to be searching for cooking recipes or reading up on healthy eating.

Leaning on a Pillar of Trust

Across the board, consumers view the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most trusted source of information for any COVID-19 related updates.

This isn’t true everywhere on a regional basis, however. For example, while U.S. consumers trust WHO the most, UK consumers view their government as their most trusted news source overall.

Trustworthy information sources, by generation. Image: Visual Capitalist

Trust in information shared on social media is higher than word of mouth from friends and family, and even foreign government websites. That said, it is lower than information shared on the radio or news websites.

The Need for Pandemic Positivity

While staying abreast of pandemic updates is important, ultimately, a positive mindset and the ability to switch off will help people cope better day-to-day.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that people are more inclined to invest in new subscription services since they have been in isolation, with almost one-third of Gen Zers considering purchasing Netflix, followed by Disney+.

The percentage of people who'd consider paying for a new subscription service, by generation. Image: Visual Capitalist

Understandably, people are becoming increasingly worried about how much time they are dedicating to their screens. However, research suggests that screen time itself is no cause for concern. Rather, it’s the content we choose to consume that could have a significant impact our psychological well-being.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the TV shows and movies that are increasing in popularity on Netflix are about pandemics—which could signify the need for people to fictionalize the chaos we find ourselves in.

Regardless of what type of content we are consuming, the fact is that every generation is relying on their devices during this pandemic to inform and distract more than ever before, creating a huge opportunity for media companies to engage a captive audience.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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