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Passing the time: how are the entertainment habits of younger and older generations in Gloucester changing this year?

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 (December 1, 2020)--With the global pandemic now fully in effect, there is no denying that how we spend our free time has fundamentally changed. Not only are we all finding ourselves with more free time on our hands than ever before we are also limited in the sorts of activities we can engage in. Long gone are the days of meeting a close friend for a quick drink in one of the many pubs that are found in the Gloucester countryside. Instead, we have to make do with socially distanced activities that fall within the social distancing guidelines.


Given that our travel habits appear to be significantly curbed for the foreseeable future how are the ways we are choosing to spend our free time changing?


More screen time


One of the most immediately obvious effects that the stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have had on how we spend our free time over the last year has been the increased screen time we all seem to be experiencing.


Not only are we forced to conduct an increasing amount of our daily lives through a virtual environment – whether it is school or work – but much of our free time revolves around staring at some type of screen.


This is made even more noticeable, given that not only are stay-at-home orders looking like they are going to be in effect for some time yet, but the long winter nights give us little opportunity to get out into the fresh air. This is particularly true for those of us living in Gloucester, where the sun is already well on its way to set by the time 4 pm rolls around.


Interestingly, the phenomenon of increased screen time we have all been experiencing of late has impacted both younger and older generations in equal measure, although younger generations seem to be more drawn to their mobile phone screens. The younger generation has definitely tended more towards using their screens for active entertainment, such as games or YouTube, whereas older generations use their phones more often for downtime between other household activities.


It’s fortunate for the younger users that the U.S had already relaxed a number of their online gaming and betting laws prior to the effects of the pandemic, meaning plenty of top New Jersey online casinos are still offering their services.


New forms of social interaction


Another aspect of how we spend our free time that has changed significantly in the last year is the types of social interaction we find ourselves having.


With many of the familiar hangout spots now closed, both younger and older individuals are having to find creative new ways of socializing around Gloucester. But with pubs, cinemas, restaurants, cafes, and theatres all shuttered for the next few weeks at least, how are the residents of Gloucester keeping in touch?


With in-person socializing not on the cards for many of us for the foreseeable future, technology has been increasingly called upon to fill the void this leaves. For this reason, the likes of Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp have become particularly important in allowing the denizens of Gloucester to stay in touch. These incredible technologies have been a true lifesaver for many thousands of people in the area, particularly those individuals who live in the more isolated areas of Gloucester, where traveling far from home to socialize is not feasible.


Online video chat software has allowed grandparents to meet up with grandchildren, and teenagers to keep in touch with their schoolmates. And for this reason, we have come to rely on these modes of communication more than ever in order to recreate some semblance of normality in how we spend our free time and entertain ourselves.


Swapping pub pints for Zoom drinks


As anyone who has ever paid a visit to Gloucester knows all too well, one of the best things about the area is the myriad pubs in the countryside. We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to drink, with Gloucester packed with prime watering holes.


However, over the last year, the requirements of social distancing have made meeting up in a bar for a quiet drink increasingly difficult, if not impossible.


As a way of recreating this most beloved pastime of people in Gloucester, many locals are turning to online formats. Zoom, for example, has given birth to the phenomenon of ‘Zoom drinks’, where friends meet up virtually and catch up with each other. Although not a complete replacement for the quiet, cozy atmosphere of a classic Gloucester bar, Zoom drinks can be a lifeline in these strange times. And until things start to settle down, it looks like both older and younger generations will keep turning to this new alternative, particularly as the future of bars and restaurants in Gloucester looks somewhat uncertain.


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