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Gen Z and Millennials treat their moods with media, and right now they’re looking for major doses of positive content…
Gen Z and Millennials’ anxiety over COVID-19 has been increasing. Over half tell us that news of the pandemic has made them anxious, and over a third say that it makes them scared, while almost two in five of young consumers in quarantine tell us their mental health has been impacted by Coronavirus. It’s a stressful and difficult time for all generations, but, of course, Gen Z and Millennials are taking their own unique approach to stress-relief.
Even before the pandemic, YPulse’s Content Cure research found that young consumers have been using content as medicine, tuning into specific shows, videos, and movies for an intentional mood-altering fix. And they’ve never needed a boost more than they do now. According to YPulse’s exclusive COVID-19 research on how young consumers are surviving quarantine, media is a big part of managing their mindsets, with half of the quarantined 13-39-year-olds saying that watching TV series and movies on streaming services is one way they plan on taking care of their mental health. We’ve also found that 67% of quarantined 13-39-year-olds are planning to watch more uplifting content in the coming weeks (stay tuned for our report on entertainment during COVID this week). Their desire for positivity, and a little good news in the midst of a dark time, is fueling the popularity of pure content online. Mood-boosting, wholesome memes, stories, and videos are flourishing on social media and beyond, as young consumers hunt for the bright side—sometimes literally. From singing doctors to art challenges, here are some ways that positive content is reigning supreme during the pandemic:
TikTok has quickly become one of Gen Z’s favorite places on the internet and as we’ve discussed, it’s also where they’re posting and watching content that’s helping them get through this crisis. Their usage of the app has been increasing, and it might be partly because of the positive content they’re finding there. While the app itself has been a leader in partnering with the World Health Organization to inform young consumers about the myths, risks, and ways to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, users are also helping make it, as Vogue UK put it, “Purest Place On The Internet Right Now.” From dance challenges to silly skits, the app’s short videos seem optimized for bite-sized uplifting moments—and it’s also become home of some new positive creators. Just one example: ”The TikTok Doc” (otherwise known as Dr. Jason Campbell) a resident physician in Portland who spreads joy with his popular TikTok dances ranging from classics like the Cha Cha Slide to TikTok-famous dances like the “Smeeze.” Several of his videos have over 2 million views, and with 154K followers (as well as re-shares by Janet Jackson), it’s clear that his positivity is winning over TikTok users.
The now-nostalgic sitcom The Office has become comfort-viewing for young consumers, who count it as one of their top favorite shows of all time. As one 18-year-old female explained to YPulse, “[The Office] is like therapy to me. I watch it whenever I’m bored or sad…. It always cheers me up.” Now, in a self-aware move that is sure to make everyone feel a whole lot better, Office star John Krasinski has launched the “Some Good News” channel on YouTube; as a place to promote heartwarming and impactful stories that can brighten a day during the pandemic. One of his first guests? Steve Carell, who made a virtual appearance to chat about the show’s 15-year anniversary. That first episode, which was posted on March 29th, currently has over 14 million views—proving the internet is hungry for good news right now. His second video (which has earned almost 7 million views in one day) surprised a young fan with a Zoom talk with Lin Manuel Miranda. With feel-good content, a logo drawn by his daughters, and a low-budget production vibe, the show is the definition of pure content.
Google searches for “good news” have been steadily growing over the last three weeks—and some are finding their answer on positive meme accounts. Popular good news Instagram @tanksgoodnews was already sharing happy headlines with followers pre-pandemic, but since March 10th the content has been Coronavirus-focused stories that highlight the feel-good stories coming out of a challenging time. Posts include heartwarming donations, recovery statistics, and calls to action. The account is the work of meme titan Tank Sinatra, and there’s a good chance his 1.6 million followers count on his posts as a bright spot in their feed amongst news of events being cancelled, travel being banned, and the world generally falling apart. Other positivity-focused social media accounts have also started as a way to combat the overwhelming (but understandable) negativity of the news cycle: @dogsworkingfromhome is posting pictures of furry office-mates “to make everyone smile while we work our way through this crazy time”—and they’ve gained 74K followers just in the past three weeks.
The search for positivity isn’t just happening online. Parents across the world are organizing themed hunts for quarantined kids to have a safe, happy activity to practice outside while social distancing. As the New York Times reports, parents are using old-fashioned teddy bears to create scavenger hunts around neighborhoods, placing bears in windows and leading kids on a trek to count as many as they can find. Meanwhile, “rainbow hunts” have been trending globally, as kids and their parents create rainbow art—from chalk drawings to sticky notes to more elaborate efforts—to display for passersby. Similar to the teddy bear hunts, families are organizing hunts for rainbows in their neighborhoods to boost spirits. While many are simple signs of hope, others are extravagant displays meant to encourage and distract young children from the fear and negativity in the world, and instead show a sense of unity in a trying time.