Amy Henry Set to Present at 2013 Digital Kids Conference

Posted by Nicole Pitkin on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

Digital Kids 2013

Amy Henry, VP of Youth Insights, will be presenting at the 2013 Digital Kids Conference in New York City. This must-attend event for brand owners, entertainment/media executives, marketers, producers, digital media directors and licensing professionals seeking to engage children online and on digital devices returns will be held on February 12-13, 2013.

In Henry’s presentation, “Everyone Has an iPad: Sorting Digital Myths From Youth Truths,” she will share fresh-from-the-field data on youth and parents and their use of technology to help you understand the authentic habits and practices of today’s preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens and their parents. She’ll go beyond the “whats” to provide deep insight into the “hows” and “whys” of youth rituals and realities when it comes to the digital world.

Register now and recieve special discount of $100 off the going rate by entering discount code: SPEAKERVIP

Tags: youth research, Gaming, conference, digital drugs, youth media

Three Reason Why Kids Love Thanksgiving

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 @ 10:30 AM

This cohort of kids might be more likely to be foodies than any in the past, and for tween boys in particular, getting to eat their fill can be a dream come true. But for most youth, the food isn’t the real draw on Thanksgiving. Yet, kids still look forward to celebrating. Here are three reasons we think turkey day delights:

  1. Kids love a parade. Sure, not every place has a parade to call their own, and not every household tunes into Macy’s megaThanksgiving-event. But many do, and for those who do, they get a chance to see some of their favorite characters (current and classic) in larger than life fashion. We love Melissa Sweet’s “true story” tale of the parade for little kids.
  2. Family is…fun. While adults might feel ambiguous about a day of family reuniting, kids, tweens and even occasionally teens look forward to it. For many, Thanksgiving is a chance to visit out of town relatives, or to have far-off family come to town. Even if their relatives are local, connecting with cousins, or seeing grandparents is less corny than cool for this cohort.
  3. Finally, giving thanks is good. This generation is oft-described as narcissistic, materialistic and tech-addicted. But we at YouthBeat know that’s not the real story. This group of youth also values giving, and giving back. As kids get older, moments made for authentic vulnerability and public professions of thanks seem to happen less often. But youth need to say they care, and to be reminded that they are loved and valued as much as any cohort before them. Thanksgiving gives them a cover story for a bit of appreciation communication. In schools, kids often get the chance to tell their friends what they are thankful for. And don’t be surprised if a kid you know asks you what you’re thinking of most on Thanksgiving Day.

Tags: wish list, Youth, kids tweens teens, holiday, culture, youth media

The Unexpected Power of Paper

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:50 AM

There’s no doubt about it: this generation of youth is more attuned to digital spaces than any in history. But despite being digital natives and online ingénues, they continue to value “paper” in some very specific ways…

WishlistWhen I was growing up, I remember the thrill of getting the Sears Wishbook. Like many kids before and after, I would dog-ear the pages to make Christmas list creation efficient and comprehensive! These voluminous works of commercial art insured that no toys was left unconsidered. As I got older, catalogs continued to play an important role during the holidays. Clothing, room décor, and even the earliest of technologies were easier seen and shown than described in words.

But that was then…And surely, this ritualistic run-through of the catalog must have been made obsolete! But, in fact, today’s households with kids, tweens and teens, and certainly with preschoolers, receive more catalogs than ever. And kids continue to peruse them. What do catalogs offer kids, and why do they remain so precious?

  • A picture speaks a thousand words. As much as the Internet can be visual candy for kids, there’s nothing quite as compelling as a fantasy world, spread across two pages. The Pottery Barn Kids website allows for searching and seeing items of your choice, but only in the catalog can a child (or more likely, parent) imagine themselves in the perfectly appointed bedroom or play space.
  • In an information-heavy world, catalogs curate. While online brands help you pick from among known options, catalogs continue to corner the market on the “at-home” browse. And catalogs from mail-order companies offer interesting and unique items that kids, tweens and teens might not find when they visit their favorite sites. For parents, this is even moreso, as educational catalogs for little kids add Montessori toys, “classic” toys and toys for the brainy child (or the child you hope becomes brainy!) via a veritable buffet of appetizing morsels.
  • Touch matters! It may be easier than ever to create collages online, and there’s little need for teens to print out their photos to show them off. But still, there’s something irreplaceable about the properties of paper. And while this might be the touchscreen generation, paper might be perceived as even more portable. They can move it from wall to wishlist. They can review it even during those “no-tech” times, or in their “low-tech” zones. If anything, paper reviews don’t infringe on screen time limitations. And another benefit? Catalogs come in the mail. Nothing says “you matter” like getting a “gift” with your name written all over it.

Far from having all the answers related to catalogs, we think there’s more to explore. How do the volumes of catalogs that arrive at kids’ doors jive with their environmental sensibilities? Which catalogs break through what can be an overwhelming amount of clutter? And for online brands, is a paper presence a worthwhile investment? We’ll keep our eye on this old but au courant shopping ritual and keep you informed!

Tags: advertisment, shopping, culture, trends

On the hunt for youth truths at a Justin Bieber concert

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Nov 07, 2012 @ 11:23 AM

justin bieber concert performance 03On Sunday night, I engaged in what anthropologists term “participant observation.” I found my subjects in a place where they congregate. I ate the food they ate (popcorn). I wore their attire (jeans). And most importantly, I listened to their music.  On Sunday night, I saw Justin Bieber in concert with my husband, my five-year-old son, my ten-year-old cousin and my aunt. Fieldnotes (with a bit of embellishment!) below…

  • The stadium’s population was comprised almost solely of girls.  Rather than the tween girls who we expected to see, many of these fans appeared to be 5-9 year olds. Accompanying these little kids were not just moms, but many dads (who, we should note, did not adorn the “native” attire – purple and pink shirts, inscribed with local mantras like “Believe,” proclamations like “I love Justin,” and, the somewhat more direct invocation, “Make me your one less lonely girl”).
  • Between Carly Rae Jepson (of “Call Me Maybe” fame), the researcher experiences déjà vu.  Her first concert, in 1985 was the Victory Tour, and she felt like she was there.  Not only did Justin Beiber don a number of Michael Jackson-inspired outfits, but he also warmed up the crowd by playing all nine tracks on Thriller. Researcher asks 10-year-old cousin, “Do you know who this is?” The answer: “no.” Researcher wonders if Beibers’ cultural canon is reflective of, or way over the heads of his young fans. Still, moms and dads seem to appreciate it.
  • Despite being in the actual presence of the boy wonder, the crowd shrieked loudest when he took a break! During these brief interludes, everyday pictures of the pop prince (including broadcasts of the YouTube videos that catapulted him to fame), filled the screen. Suddenly, the larger than life figure (who, it might be worthy to note, looks years younger than 18 when he’s on that big stage!) seems relatable once again. This seems to be the Justin that resonated with them. The sounds of a real kid’s voice, and a glimpse at his home videos seemed slightly more spectacular than the lasers and light show that illuminated the stage. Overhead: Dad of five-year-old boy asks, “Isn’t this just footage from the movie?”
  • Ritualistic turning back of time occurred during the morning of the concert, allowing for more sunlight in the morning, but prompting eyes to droop about four songs into the 8 pm est concert. (Right around the sixth song, five-year old boy opts to fall asleep wearing noise-blocking earphones. Does not seem to be concerned that he’s missing the “one time” he will see his favorite singer.)
  • Overheard: adult female to girl of ~10 years of age, “We used to use cigarette lighters to light up the audience, because we didn’t have cell phones.” Laughter, seemingly in disbelief…Researcher unclear if this is due to inability to believe that cell phones didn’t always exist or that cigarette lighters were appropriate to bring into a concert venue.
  • Throughout the concert, singer assures audience of over 20,000 that he wrote the “next song just for them.” While this seems highly improbable to the adults in attendance, the many screaming girls seem to believe.

Our thoughts and well-wishes go out to our friends affected by Hurricane Sandy. We know that many kids and families have faced challenges in the past week, and even kids who aren’t directly affected might be experiencing feelings of uncertainty about the storm and its aftermath. We recommend the following resources related to talking to kids about natural disasters:

Tags: girls, music, youth media, tweens, Justin Bieber