Huge changes in media consumption over the last decade and the increasing take-up of technology by younger age groups has allowed for the creation of a space that is more unknown than ever before. Increasing access and ownership levels of personal mobile & tablet devices are creating problems for parents, regulators and brands alike.
Receiving their first mobile phone is a significant step in the growth of independence, giving children a process for discovery and allowing for a different form of education than we have previously seen. Generation Z (born between the mid-1990s and 2010) and Generation Alpha (born post-2010) are the future of the workforce and already one in four have learned to code to some extent, setting themselves up for a digital workplace.
However, freedom to use tech at this young age is resulting in problems, both through consuming content such as gaming (more likely to be boys) or via social media apps (more likely to be girls). For example, TikTok is now used by 1 in 5 tween girls in the UK before they are legally allowed at 13, raising questions about child safety on the app. Indeed, in 2019 the app was fined in the US for illegally collecting information on children and banned in India earlier the same year for a short time.
The habits and implications of tween boys’ gaming consumption have also come under scrutiny particularly around their growing spend on apps and in-app purchases (which our data shows is worth £320m per year from boys alone), with some spending even linked to gambling.
Whilst there are concerns amongst kids of all ages and their use of technology in an increasingly online world, it could be argued that there is particular concern amongst parents and politicians for tweens, given the serious nature some of their activity is or can be linked to. But tweens too are conscious and concerned about the impacts or knock-on effects of being active online. Over half of 10-12-year-olds worry about cyber-bullying, more than the average 13-18-year-old, and a little under a third of this age group are worried about viewing inappropriate content.
Tweens are too young to be legally allowed social media and even YouTube, and too old for platforms such as YouTube Kids; this is a cohort often lacking appropriate and suitable places to spend time on the internet.
In the next few years, we will no doubt see increased regulations and legislation around children and television / gaming /app platforms and brands that still appeal to children, whilst also guarding their safety, will no doubt win over in the long run. There is also perhaps, a gap in the market for tweens and an opportunity for brands to provide a fun, safe space for this age group to spend their time online, viewing appropriate content and allowing them to socialise in a safe environment.
Our methodology enables us to track the entire, inter-connected kid’s ecosystem from the toys and games they play with, to their favourite brands and devices. We specialise in helping clients identify new products before the masses do, understand the true performance of a product and how to maximise their investment from a sales and marketing perspective.
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