Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Posted by YouthBeat Speaks on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:49 AM

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the tragedy in Aurora, CO. For kids, tweens and teens, tragedies affecting other children – even those that happen far away – can weigh heavily on their minds. Over the past few days, much has been written about how to talk to children about an event that is confounding even to the wisest adults. We recommend the APA’s (American Psychiatric Association) blogpost on this topic, found here.

The Team at YouthBeat

Tags: tragedy, family, youth media

The Next American – Managers?

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 @ 08:48 AM

148278915A few weeks ago, on an NBC primetime special spanning two summer nights, viewers watched while Justin Bieber caused chaos in cities around the world, just by showing up. This was no surprise. But what may have been a more insightful sign of the times was what we saw happen when the “behind the scenes” crew encountered the crowd – chaos. Okay, so it wasn’t Bieber-brand pandemonium, but it was the kind of reception that another A-list celebrity might find satisfying. Justin’s manager, stylist, musical director and PR person were greeted with authentic appreciation, not just anticipation for the star who they brought to the party.

In youth culture today, the finders’ gain much more than a fee…They get their own chance at fame. Simon Cowell may have paved the way for the producer-turned-celebrity, but even established rockers are finding that selecting or showcasing the next star might make them more relevant than releasing a new single. From J. Lo and Steven Tyler (who was hardly top-of-mind among today’s teens before he chose Idol as his latest gig), who leveraged temporary stints as talent scouts on American Idol into fresh fame, to Justin Bieber’s own “pay-it-forward” tweets to introduce the world to Carly Rae Jepson (and her often imitated hit “Call Me Maybe”) and most recently, 13-year-old Madison Beer, today’s biggest stars know that using their platform to promote others brings the spotlight back to them.  And today’s tweens and teens are used to meeting the momager behind the celebrity (think Kris Kardashian). But what does this tell us about what youth want from their stars?

  • First, they expect altruism alongside talent.  A Twitter account is not meant for only self-promotion, but for propping up a voice in need of visibility.
  • Second, they see celebrity as a business, and know the ones who make it happen are as important as the ingénue. Contrary to what is sometimes said about this generation, they know that fame requires effort – but they also know it takes a team.
  • And finally, they want recommendations from the curators of their choice. This cohort has grown up expecting that every website they visit, every purchase they make comes with a follow-up recommendation for something else they might like.

Tags: reality tv, kids tweens teens, music, culture, Justin Bieber

Picky Eating and Parenting Wars

Posted by Amy Henry on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 @ 03:37 PM

Kids ResearchIn Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic brings together hard data on the way we taste to challenge one of many measuring sticks that she claims parents use to compare how well they’ve done at raising respectable, reasonable rugrats. A self-proclaimed picky eater, Lucianovic resists the notion that kids don’t eat whatever is on their plate because of their parents prep (or lack thereof). Instead, she suggests that proclaiming one’s own child to be a good eater is just one more front in the mommy and daddy wars. In a New York Times blog, she points to this politicization of parenting’s predecessors: breastfeeding battles, sleep-habit superiority, and the stay-at-home mom hostility, just to name a few. And she asks, what if being a picky eater has nothing to do with bad parenting, as your friend, whose child eats everything might imply?

Lucianovic seems to pick a side in the parenting wars versus truly catalyzing a truce (which she claims to be her goal). But wherever you stand on the nurture/nature continuum, it’s hard not to see that Lucianovic has identified an insight about parents and parenting today. Whether the subject is sending a kid with a fall birthday to kindergarten at 4 or at 5 (see the 60 Minutes piece from this past weekend entitled “Redshirting:  Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten”), or the ideal age for cell phone acquisition, today’s parents’ decisions might be based on what’s right for their child, but whether they’re concerned about it or not, are likely to face the scrutiny of others. Thus, whether their child’s choice of afternoon snack seems like a big deal to them or not, the amplification of advice from all aspects of the expert universe might make them place more importance on the specific ways they scaffold their children than they might naturally do.

So how can brands and organizations navigate the new obstacles that their parent purchasers or influencers face?

  • First, don’t assume that all parents are on the same side of issues – regardless of the demographic markers they might share. Although issues like holding back kids from kindergarten may be one that is on the radar of middle and upper income families more than lower income families, don’t assume they all fall out on the same side.
  • Look for ways to solve the problems that many moms and dads face, but don’t pile on the judgment that they’re likely to be feeling already.
  • Finally, don’t assume that parenting decisions are “set” early and remain the same. Today’s parents are constantly confronted with new information and changing contexts in which to evaluate them. What worked today (or what worked for one child) might not work for another.

Tags: youth research, food, menu, family, culture