For Kids, It’s Just Seamless Communications
“Just wait ’til Mom finds out that you tried to take over the world again!” – Gertie Giggles, “Spy Kids2: Island of Lost Dreams,” Dimension Films (2002)
Ever notice that when you buy something today, it comes with a 500-page user manual and a whole section of warnings. Get a kid and he/she is just dumped into your hands and…that’s it. Outta’ the chute, the little sucker is smarter than you are. Right from the get-go, they’re wired for using the PC, tablet, smartphone, game system. It’s part of their DNA.. They may not walk or use the toilet, but they’re surfing the web; blogging; microblogging; posting to the social network; shooting/posting/watching photos, videos…you name it.
Born Online – Even if you’re a teen or older, you look at the younger generation and wonder if they were born wired. They get devices – notebooks, tablets, smartphones – sooner and almost immediately, they’re outperforming you. It’s humiliating asking a little kid to help you get the most out of your device. Source – eMarketer
In the U.S., it’s estimated that over 20 million children go online at least once a month (39.9%) and by 2014, 47.8 percent of the youngsters will be cruising the digital universe. According to a recent global study on how kids interact with digital technology, 41 percent of the kids under 15 preferred PCs to TV. Once they get online, there’s no holding them back.
Learning Process – Even little kids have personal mobile devices and begin learning at a very young age. In addition to the Leaptop shown above, Leapfrog recently introduced the new LeapPad which should be a huge seller this Christmas season. Heck, we didn’t get our Commodore 64 until we were 19. Couldn’t talk to anyone because Gore hadn’t even taken the initiative to create the iNet. But it isn’t just the computer; today’s kids have embraced all of the digital technologies…with ease. Some psychologists might say this leads them to be socially inept, but they build their online/offline as they age. There’s probably nothing wrong with that but as any kid knows, parents don’t have a clue what’s really going on. Ingrid laid down the law though when she said, “There is no hacking in this household!” Responsible parents watch and warn kids about talking to strangers in the real world, but the online world is filled with strangers. Some are even marketers who try to convince them to buy their product/service.
Online Entertainment – While it is true youngsters are still plopping in front of the TV to be entertained and learn, increasingly parents have found new online, interactive opportunities for them that are even more feature-rich. The online activities also allow them to improve their hand/eye coordination and learn along the way. In addition, they have a wide range of digital devices to use. Source – Pew Research
One big online activity is watching video…duuuhhh!
eMarketer estimated that nearly 10 million kids under 12 will watch their stuff online this year. Last year, they estimate 44 percent of these kids were on the internet and by 2015, 70 percent will be downloading, streaming.
Little kids (2-11) view 51streams monthly, 118 minutes per person. According to the Joan Ganz at Cooney Center, 30 percent of children three and younger spend some time each week using computers, video games, mobile devices. After that, the video increases – 80 percent of the 4-to 5-year-olds do digital things and more than 90 percent of the 6-to 8-year-olds more than 90 percent. Last year, 82 percent of the teens (12-17) were online regularly, but only 25 percent were what Nielsen Online categorizes as active. O.K., don’t start screaming that the next generation won’t be able to interact offline with real people as opposed to virtual people they do do other stuff.
Online, Offline – It’s true that children spend time online/on devices at an earlier age; but they also spend a lot of time offline with real people as well. They move effortlessly between the online/offline worlds, expanding their social and life skills. Source – Nielsen
Kids’ lives are overflowing with media … digital media. They started out after the daily routine included reading newspapers/magazines, getting news capsules from the TV. It’s all served up to them instantly online using a variety of media and that increases as they get older.
Digital Playground – Around the globe, youngsters are going online to make their mark. The problem is parents don’t have a real handle on how often/long they are on or where they spend the majority of their time. Source – AVG Technologies
Guess as semi-adults, we can’t blame the kids. They didn’t design, develop, produce it…that’s our legacy. But don’t beat yourself up over it…in the long run; it’s a good thing because they do communicate. Sometimes a little more than you might like because:
- They will probably regret some of the stuff they communicate, heck “matures” do
- Advertisers work hard to have them become their BFs and like them even though kids are smarter than marketers give them credit for and get their best info from friends and regular folks who honestly review/use the stuff
- There are bad folks out there who bully, stalk, steal
Influentials – Children and young adults are ideal targets for marketing messages; but marketers also have to walk a fine line to not irritate parents by focusing on the youngsters. While young people may be born with a digital DNA, they also have healthy skepticism for advertising messages compared to recommendations from friends and consumer reviews. Source – myYearbook
For parents, the challenge is they really don’t know what their kid are doing…focus parents, focus. According to a Harris Interactive study, parents said their children spent only two hours a month on the Internet. Surprise! Kids said they actually spend about 10X that or 20 hours, and 41 percent of those ages 13-17 said parents had no clue as to what they did online. In fact, only 33 percent of the parents worldwide said they set any parental controls or monitored the kids’ online activity. Donnagon Giggles saw the figures and said reassuringly, “No, no, my children are fine… somewhere in the Gobi desert.” Maybe Geoffrey Moore should write a new Chasm book??? Face it, there’s a huge global digital divide between parents/adults and cyber-savvy kids. Online games, virtual worlds, ecommerce sites and social media are increasingly incorporating two-way communications – VoIP, Chat, IM – into their activities. And the online stuff is moving to the offline world. Think about it…online dating, offline marriages. Some say it works. We did it the old-fashioned way and that’s worked for a big bunch of years!
But for the up-and-comers, technology (internet, mobile devices) is integrated into their lives so much, they don’t even think about tech stuff…they just do it! The challenge for companies though is that kids don’t think about whether it’s a Samsung smartphone, iPhone, Dell notebook, Lenovo tablet, iPad, you name it. They simply communicate, consume, mashup, exchange, download, store, do. They give a rat’s behind about WebOS, Windows, iOS, Android! They expect to go seamlessly, effortlessly from their internet-connected computer to their smartphone to their tablet to their whatever the next thing will be. As Gary Giggles noted, “Remember, an agent is only as good as his gadgets…” Apple saw that need, so stuff is going to move across their devices without even thinking about it. MS got the message and their new OS will work the same way – pretty much, we hope. WebOS is a painful work in progress. Google’s efforts look more like a bunch of kids working in separate locked rooms (silos) doing a bunch of really cute, fun things that don’t play well in the real world. Carmen looked at the whole group of them and said, “You’re so full of shiitake mushrooms.” The key is which of these sets of super egos will determine that it’s in their enlightened self-interest to play well with the other kids who run companies, programs. Who knew we were supposed to learn something from kids? If we take another one, ship it with a user’s guide!
Virtually Real – Kids spend hours moving back and forth in the real/virtual world playing games, competing, learning. While hologram animals/environments may not be inexpensive yet, you can be certain they will be here soon. Image – Dimension Films
Our kids are going to help us in the meantime. Just like Carmen, our daughter said, “Okay if you want information, just go straight to the source.” That way we both look good.