More people than ever are staying inside their homes and refraining from physical contact with their friends and families in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus across the globe — and they’re finding creative ways to spend their time despite it all.
According to an MTV News/YouGov poll, 38 percent of Americans have called someone using video chat more than they usually do, and 37 percent have called someone more than they usually do. But that number jumps up if you look at the most connected generations: Most Gen Zers have video chatted more than usual over the last two weeks, and about half of millennials have video chatted more. A plurality of Gen Xers and boomers have been video chatting as frequently as they did two weeks ago.
That number isn’t specific to young people chatting with their friends, though: Zoom’s daily active users jumped from a peak of 10 million to over 200 million in the three months that millions across the world began working and going to school from home. While part of that increase might be attributed to users video-calling into meetings for their nine to five, video-chatting is also taking over church, weddings, funerals, and birthday parties across the country. And, as Susan Pinker, a psychologist and author of “The Village Effect” told the New York Times, video chats are the closest thing we can do to actually interacting with the people we care about since it mimics our real-life interactions in which everyone is “paying attention to the same thing at the same time.”
But that doesn’t mean video chatting isn’t without its risks. Privacy experts have expressed concerns about Zoom after a series of missteps from both users and the company, including bugs that allow people to take control of webcams and microphones, the companies' data collection and storage policies, and unfriendly users Zoombombing videoconferences.
On the flip side, plenty of people are trying to log off for long periods of time. Young people, in particular, are finding ways to fill their time differently than they would if the lockdown wasn’t in place. Gen Zers are the most likely to be cooking food at home more than they were two weeks ago and Millennials are the most likely to be drinking more alcohol now than they were two weeks ago, according to the poll.