Today's kids are growing up with online social environments. Parents and marketers alike need to understand and embrace this reality. We all have online identities, and we need to start early with our children so they understand how to navigate and safely communicate on the social Web as they mature. Building their identities is an important aspect of development and a social persona is now a reality for many of us and will only continue to grow.
Today's 6-to-11 year olds have grown up with the expectation that they can interact with their favorite brand whenever they want, and on whatever device they happen to have in their hands. This ease of movement between formats and technologies reflects a fundamental difference between the way we (digital immigrants) and kids (digital natives) experience media.
As the options for playing non-arcade video games have expanded from computer-based to hand-held to Internet and finally cell phone, so has the enthusiasm for such electronic entertainment among U.S. kids ages 6-11. Based on the results of the in-home survey of approximately 5,000 youths -- along with an accompanying survey of primary adult caregivers -- five characteristics emerge with regard to kids and video gaming.
Let's start with some basics ... America's tweens spend billions of their own dollars each year on purchases for themselves, and also have considerable influence over major family purchase decisions. They are Internet-savvy, highly social consumers. Not surprisingly, thousands of marketers are trying to attract their attention when they go online. Building truly engaging content is the single most effective way to reach these potential customers.
The beauty of online product development is that your audience is right there to tell you what they want and, even more important, what they don't. I've led development for many adult products over the past two decades, but nothing is quite as humbling -- or revealing -- as the feedback you get from kids.
A new generation has stepped up to meet the challenge of preserving our environment. These young activists come from all socio-economic backgrounds and from all parts of this country. Unlike prior generations, one thing these mini eco-warriors do have in common is a unified concern about their environment and a profound belief that they can make a difference.
For the past several years, youth marketers have been clamoring about kids growing up faster. We've presented on "Age Compression" and the KGOY (Kids Growing Older Younger) effect at conferences, we've written books about it, and we've created news stories about the "acceleration" through childhood. We've pointed to how kids "age out" of traditional toys earlier, their growing influence in the home, and their expanding consumption of more mature content.
Before the digital revolution, advertising creatives and designers had to master narrowly focused knowledge and skill sets to optimize the consumer's engagement with a brand messages. Today, it is essential to understand consumer engagement with each discrete medium and how the interaction among those media influences brand message delivery.
Social networks now have a whole new target audience: kids. While studies show record global growth for current world leader Facebook (up 153%), significant spurts for Hi5, and even Friendster, that growth is bound to slow as grown-ups run out of fellow grown-ups to friend request. The solution? The diaper set.
"Better for You" or healthier kid food products are the hottest battleground for food marketers nationwide. Yet, as in most battlegrounds, the field is overwhelmed with "dead soldiers," or "BFY" products that seemed great in the lab, on the PowerPoint, or in research exercises.