digital kids September 23, 2008Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, digital, digital advertising, kids.
Digital is not something that children have had to get used to; it’s always been there. They stay online longer than adults, more likely to access the web form different locations and devices, undertake a phenomenal range of activities and adapt to new trends and technology with consummate ease. And with over three quarters of UK children accessing the web from home or school regularly, the opportunities for brands to interact, engage and influence with them are massive. But for brands, the opportunities need to be leveraged in an appropriate and unobtrusive manner.
Brands targeting younger children have a dual audience of the child and the parent; the former to engage and the latter to gain approval and provide reassurance. This needs careful balance so you don’t lose the fun element and over-do the barriers to entry to ensure parental consent.
From a child’s perspective, sites need to engage them on the same level as you’d approach any child project. The difference with digital is that it can be so much more immersive and deep than many other channels. Tonally, the site needs to use words and images that make the site feel like it’s their world, not their parents. Tactile, graphically-driven interfaces draw more interest and usage. Friendly characters or cartoons encourage identification and interaction. Interactive games deliver education and skill enhancement. Kids love being part of clubs and delivering competitions is a no-brainer, especially if the prizes are in the “I want one of those” categories.
Kids want personalization and self-expression. Custom avatars, virtual worlds, profiles and badges are hugely popular: witness the core functionality of the Wii-mii on the Nintendo Wii as a demonstration of tapping into the personalisation trend.
The ability to interact within a community is also key. For younger children this is typically their local community: school friends, streets. For older kids the global community is their playground.
Children don’t just access the web through a hard-wired computer at home anymore. Mobile penetration and usage is high in this age group and will only continue as technology becomes more pervasive and cost-efficient. They also use other devices to communicate and browse including hand-held games so brands need to decode usage and ensure their digital presence can be re-purposed and re-packaged seamlessly to become device-agnostic.
From a parents perspective, they need to be re-assured that what their kids are doing online is safe, educational and fun.
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