YTS Report: The New Hobbies on the Rise

Over the past 12 months, we’ve spoken to hundreds of kids about their lockdown hobbies. Here's what we found out.

As the country went into lockdown closing everything from cinemas, restaurants, galleries and leisure centres, there was a boom in us all taking up new hobbies, be it was painting, gardening, crafting or baking; we all sought new ways to keep ourselves entertained and busy at home. 

And it was no different for kids. With extra free time on their hands, they took lockdown as an opportunity to cultivate new hobbies and interests.

As part of our YTS programme, we speak to hundreds of kids monthly to hear their opinion and learn more about their day-to-day lives. Over the past 12 months, we’ve got to know more about how they kept themselves busy when schools were closed and they had limited time with their friends. 

What’s stood out to me has been how kids and families turned to hobbies old and new to keep themselves entertained. So much has been said about this generation’s reliance on tech and digital and while they have of course increased steeply, there’s also been a shift to enjoying time spent as a family, and centring this time around hobbies they can do together. 

Here are three of the top non-screen time trends we spotted: 

Cooking and Baking  

Baking and cooking are the real standouts from my interviews with kids. As we hit the kitchen at the start of the pandemic for a nationwide banana bread cook-a-long, kids and families have continued to fill their kitchens with the smell of freshly baked cookies, muffins and scones. 

‘Yeah, I like baking cakes now. Chocolate fudge cake.’

Baking is not only a fun and bonding experience for families but also rewarding. Kids are making tasty treats from scratch and are proud of the outcome. 

During lockdown, kids have also told me they’ve got more involved in cooking as a way to help out at home. With their parents busy working from home in the next room, speedy omelettes and pasta dishes have become lunch menu staples.

‘Yesterday we made Spaghetti Bolognese all by ourselves. We did it with Mum, Dad and Reggie.’

Lockdown can get monotonous, so cooking and baking are a welcome escape. Kids are experimenting with new recipes and having fun while doing so. 

Time Outside 

Kids and families have also been enjoying time spent outdoors. I’ve spoken to several kids and families who are walking more together; whether that’s walking the dog or strolling around the park, it’s become a joint family activity. While school clubs and activities were on hold, kids have been spending their time, and excess energy, dancing, practicing gymnastics or playing football at home or in the park. 

‘I like to do gymnastics with my big sister. She teaches me what to do.’

Crafts

The last hobby kids are raving about are arts and crafts. One kid told me, ‘I’m happy when I’m drawing and doing arts and crafts.And they aren’t alone. 

While we saw a decline in creativity before the pandemic, it’s quickly increasing again as kids try to break away from their screens: HobbyCraft reported a staggering 200% boom in online sales since the start of the pandemic. 

Boredom busters such as sewing kits, model-making sets, beading, and Crayola are nurturing kids’ needs for more creativity and originality. Sales of Lego sets also surged last year by 21% as kids turned to the colourful plastic brick toys to keep them entertained during days of isolation.

Beyond this, kids are showing impressive ingenuity and initiative to make their own fun. For example, one girl told me, ‘I made Barbie furniture and Barbie clothes.’ Kids are venturing beyond crafts sets and seeking out more ways to express their creativity as a result of spending more time at home.

I’m interested to see how kids’ behaviours will adapt to the switch back to normality. Will these new hobbies fade away when they return to school, with less free time at home? Or, will families make a concerted effort to keep them up?

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