Millions of kids are heading back to school. Along with brand new school supplies and new outfits, the first day of school usually brings a new classroom instructor. The idea of a new teacher can be intimidating for some kids. However, what kids sometimes forget is that they, themselves, are teachers. In fact, kids aged 6-12 years old find themselves teaching their parents about all kinds of things including media and technology. We find this to be especially true if their parents are Baby Boomers or older Gen Xers.
A great majority of Boomer moms believe kids today are smarter than previous generations because of their exposure to media and technology. These older parents of young kids are part of the parental cohort most likely to believe it is important for children to be exposed to new technology and internet-enabled devices as early as possible. Therefore, it should not be surprising to learn these moms have come to rely on their school-age kids to introduce them to new devices and digital experiences.
The role of parent as tech teacher is somewhat more traditional in families led by Millennial-aged parents. For tech-savvy Millennial Moms who grew up using the internet themselves, sharing their passion for technology with even their youngest children is natural. Today’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers are growing up in increasingly connected environments. Their homes are filled with tablets, gaming consoles, smartphones, laptops, MP3 players and other internet-enabled devices, and they are being introduced to these tools at very young ages.
The intuitive nature of the user interfaces found on these devices makes them readily accessible for the youngest members of the audience. As such, moms are eager to expose their very young children to digital experiences on touchscreen devices, and their kids are keen to try them out. Moms enjoy the convenience of sharing online video, music and games with their children wherever they are, whenever they want. Who hasn’t seen a preschooler using his/her parent’s smart device in a restaurant, supermarket check-out line or other public place? Due to this high demand, the app market for preschoolers is chock-full of educational, entertaining, and engaging choices.
But what are these burgeoning skills with digital media teaching the next generation of consumers about how to access entertainment, education and information? Are Millennial Moms helping to redefine for their children basic childhood constructs like playing, watching, reading and learning? Thus far, the data seem to indicate yes. For example, three-out-of-five Millennial moms of preschoolers believe kids today would rather play online or with video games than with traditional toys. Young kids today routinely play with their parents’ smartphones and tablets. They can recognize the specific icons for their favorite apps long before they know how to read, they turn to digital devices when they want to find a favorite song, a fun game or a new video. It is essential to remember these learned behaviors will stay with these kids as they develop into your customers of tomorrow. Is your brand ready to connect with this next generation of consumers? What are they learning about your product category and your brand? Will they want to connect with you?
Note: The findings referenced in this article are based on LMX Family, an annual syndicated study measuring media and technology attitudes and behaviors of families with kids aged 0-12 years old.