Infographic: Media Usage by Kids, Tweens, and Teens, 2014-2017

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Aug 02, 2018 @ 01:45 PM

Have you noticed that every young person today seems to be tethered to a mobile device?  Whether they’re watching YouTube videos, playing Fortnite, or streaming Netflix, technology has made media content ubiquitous to youth.  But, what they’re accessing, and how they are accessing it, has changed a great deal even in the last few years.

We’ve harnessed the power of our YouthBeat® data—our syndicated youth research study that we field every month with kids, tweens, and teens —which reveals some eye-opening, big-picture shifts over time. Want to learn the truth about whether live TV viewing is dead with youth? 

Click here to download our new infographic, Top 9 Truths about Youth’s Media Usage Trends: #6 Will Blow Your Mind! 

Tags: kids tweens teens market research, youth media, trends, YouthBeat

YouthBeat Celebrates World Emoji Day!

Posted by Gretchen Riskind on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 03:33 PM

If you’re like us at C+R Research, then you’re probably excited for July 17th which is World Emoji Day – the day we celebrate those fun, little, digital characters that have changed the way people around the world communicate online daily.world emoji day

So, why July 17th? It’s actually quite simple. The calendar emoji on iOS devices displays the date, July 17th

With 92% of the world’s online population using emojis, it only makes sense that brands and marketers are celebrating this day as well by creating fun and clever, emoji-related promotions and events to engage users both online and offline.

In 2017, here’s how some celebrated the day:

  • The Empire State Building lit up in “emoji yellow,”
  • Disney created a two-and-a-half-minute video featuring emojis re-enacting Frozen, using only sounds, music, and emojis, and
  • Sony Pictures organized and set a new Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as emoji faces (multiple venues) as fans donned yellow emoji costumes at simultaneous events across Dubai, Moscow, London, Dublin, Sao Paulo, and more.

While we are excited to see what marketers have in store this year, we do know that Cotton On Kids just launched its new emoji-themed clothing collection in time for the celebration and Emojiland, a new original emoji musical, is premiering in New York on July 17th. Also, in anticipation of World Emoji Day, Facebook recently revealed how people are using emojis on Facebook and Messenger:

  • Over 900 million emojis are sent every day without text
  • The most popular day of the year to send an emoji – New Year’s Eve
  • And our favorite, people are using the heart emoji twice as much on Facebook this year compared to last year

While the world celebrates on July 17th, phone manufacturers will be busy choosing which of 157 officially approved emojis for 2018 will be added to your smartphone’s keyboard sometime this fall. The list includes: redheads, superheroes, curly hair and a bagel.

It turns out that emojis are regulated by a group called the Unicode Consortium, which aims to create universal character standards across platforms and languages. Anyone can submit a proposal for new emoji to be considered; that is if you are inspired enough to complete Unicode’s six-part submission form, which requires applicants to explain the emoji’s expected usage (frequency and the number of ways it can be used), what makes it distinct and user demand. 

Have an idea for the next new emoji? Unfortunately, you missed the deadline to submit a proposal for 2019, but we can tell you some of the candidates on the short list include: The Flamingo, Waffle, Diya Lamp and Hindu Temple. 

Feeling emoji inspired? Join in the celebration on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #WorldEmojiDay.

Tags: youth research, kids tweens teens market research, YouthBeat, youth marketing, emoji

Youth Get Physical in the Summer Sun

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

It’s summer vacation, when parents encourage their kids to take a break from the video game controller, get outside and move.  It’s an important notion, not just for burning off energy and getting some fresh air, but also because physical activity is associated with endorphin release and a feeling of well-being, as well as the satisfaction and confidence that comes from building skills—physical or otherwise.  Here are four “get moving” trends popping up in communities around the U.S. that can make burning off some energy a bit more fun than the usual trips to the park and the pool:

1. Get Your Museum On. A visit to the museum just got a lot more interesting for kids who want some kinesthetic release in addition to wandering through the exhibits.  The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opened a new larger, space this year (more than 7 acres) for families to participate in activities from the familiar (basketball and golf) to the more exotic (tackling football dummies or racing pedal cars).  For those on the West Coast, the Portland Children’s Museum in Oregon and the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, CA offer similar adventures.
kid yoga outside

2. Get Your Goat (Yoga). Yoga is beneficial to kids as well as adults—that’s why it’s used in so many schools and afterschool programs for relaxation and focus, as well as the physical benefits it provides. Goat yoga classes have popped up on farms all over the country. Essentially, people do their yoga thing while adorable goats wander around, encourage and will jump onto the backs of the participants. There’s also petting and snuggly involved. They’re built-in emotional support animals for kids and adults that bring the yogi experience to a whole new level.  These are available in rural areas from Massachusetts to California and points in between, and some farmers will even bring their animals to visit you. 
 
3. Get Pumped (Iron) Up. Some child athletes start lifting light weights as early as 4th grade to support their bodies in traditional sports.  But now there is an entire powerlifting circuit available to youth.  Several adult powerlifting organizations like USA Powerlifting and United States Powerlifting Association of Irvine that host events targeted to youth as young as 8 years old.  It’s important to note that any child who starts a weightlifting regimen must be closely supervised by a parent lifter or coach, to avoid progressing to weights that are too heavy, and potentially damaging muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  That said, the youth who do participate report feelings of power and achievement, which can carry over and provide confidence in all other aspects of life (including schoolwork).
 
kid skateboard
4. Get Thee to the Skate Park. Long gone are the days of the 1990s when skateboarders were the rebellious bad boys and girls of the urban scene, riding illegally and dangerously in traffic.  A generation later, they’ve evolved into supportive and encouraging communities gathering in public fixture installations across the country—nearly ubiquitously in urban areas and increasingly familiar in suburban ones.  Hanging out, learning tricks, admiring one’s fellow skateboarders, and even recording video to upload to Instagram, are the new good clean fun times of the skate park.  And the proper gear (helmet and pads) makes the sport safer than ever to give it a try.

OUR POV:

Summer is a great time for youth to get outside, try something new, and maybe discover a new passion for a new or different fitness activity.  Keep these trends in mind and try and use your brand to encourage exploration and connection with others as youth get moving.  And, as always, remind youth to remember their sunscreen!

Tags: youth research, Physical Activity, YouthBeat, summer vacation

A Softer, Gentler Toy Fair

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Tue, Mar 06, 2018 @ 01:59 PM

Toy Fair 2018 was last week in New York, and was a pleasant surprise to YouthBeat (who is led by a somewhat tech-wary adult).  We’re excited to share some of the themes we noticed:

  • Everything Isn’t Electronic
    • Sure, there were amazing drones and robotics and remote-controlled cars and coding-based games, but they didn’t dominate the trade floor as they did in 2017.
    • Plenty of blocks, plushes, board games, and other traditional books and toys are still available for toy stores to purchase and stock. Check out Surprizimals, the mystery plush that is collectible.
    • Bubble Paws are our favorite new product from the convention—children (or adults) don plastic “animal paws” with holes embedded, dip them in bubble solution, and swipe the air to make a bubble frenzy!
  • Bracelet Comebacks
    • In an era where “A” for “Arts” has been left out of STEM, YouthBeat was delighted to see a range of materials for child self-expression—in the form of bracelets, just when we thought we were long overdue for a wrist trend.
    • Some new products that sparked our interested is the Kudo Banz product: Child-driven wearable rewards. Here’s how it works:
      • Children wear the band and earns rewards of their choosing throughout the day.
      • Once they earn three rewards, parents get notifications on their phone through the connected app and they can bestow extra gifts like extended story time at night.
    • Other companies like Frogsac are offering jewelry, charms, pins, and patches to help kids create a pastiche of self-expression.
    • Another of our favorite new products is Flow Rings. They offer glitzy, kinetic fun in the form of bracelets.
  • Fantastical Fun
    • In a world where active shooter drills and politics on the TV can seem scary, safe and fun playful fantasy still abide for young children.
    • This year turned up many unicorn items as well as sparkly, glittery toys and play items. You can even buy a unicorn Pillow Pet!
    • Leading this trend, Glitter Girls dolls include “glitter on every bow and shoe.”
  • Gross Goings-On
    • Along the fantastical theme, children still enjoy the humor in bodily functions and external snotty, slimy vibes. These are developmentally necessary, helping kids see and test social limits, as well as express irreverence that isn’t yet the rebelliousness of teenhood.  Plus, a gross surprise is unexpected and fun!
    • From the makers of Slimeball (“Slime or Be Slimed!) comes Skunkball (extend your paddle rally or be “Skunked!”)
    • Hog Wild: “Throwing Stuff that Sticks since 1996” poppers have been popular around the YouthBeat office. Watch out or you’ll get popped!
  • Parent Pertinent
    • Many toys, especially those converging digital and tactical elements, espouse “purposeful play.” It’s good to see digital designers creating products and apps not just because they can, but because they will have real developmental benefits for children.  Similar to what YouthBeat saw at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, tangible and physical elements are complementing digital ones in new toy offerings.
    • For Millennial parents who value sustainability (isn’t that all of them?), companies like Para Kito offer essential oils that are natural mosquito repellants for fun summer nights.
    • There’s a lack of pretense that toys are just for kids these days—adults were seen around the showroom enjoying everything from the new Razor Trike to Fat Brain Toy Co.’s Door Pong (invented by Alexander X., age 10).

Our POV is that we appreciate the thoughtfulness we saw on the showroom floor this year.  Homegrown toy companies are creating meaningful ways to play, not just jumping on bandwagons or innovating for the sake of novelty.  The joy of childhood is squarely in the spotlight this year, and we encourage our client brands to strike a similar tone.

Tags: kids tweens teens market research, kids tweens teens, trends, toy trends, YouthBeat, youth marketing, 2018 trends, technology

Kids and Technology: A Perfect Pairing?

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 @ 04:13 PM

It was a long, strange week in Las Vegas.  Normally that sentence wouldn’t have anything to do with YouthBeat®, but last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) changed all that.

Two relevant media stories set the stage.  First, Apple was challenged by two of its investors to consider their responsibility in preventing or ameliorating the risk of technology addiction in young people.  Increasingly, studies are showing that too much technology time is detrimental to youth—their sleep, their classroom performance, their emotions, and their overall well-being.  Second, VTECH was fined $650,000 for a Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violation.  Their Kid Connect app originally did not obtain adequate parental permission before allowing the collection of personally identifiable information from child users (but that has since been updated).  Because of these stories, the national discourse, then, centered on the risks of technology use by youth.

Juxtaposed against this, the exhibitors at CES unveiled some of the most cutting-edge new technologies for kids—and even infants.  Some of them begged the question about where the line might be drawn between the benefits and risks of digital devices.  A key benefit of many of the products for the youngest kids is giving parents a greater sense of control.  And these aren’t all Millennial parents, some of the oldest of Generation Z (like Kylie Jenner, if the rumors are true) are now becoming young parents. Gen Z, having been raised during the recession, is already known to be savvy as consumers, gritty in their attitudes, and appreciative of control when the world seems tumultuous. 

In our YouthBeat®, Jr. survey, the youngest parents (ages 18-34) say that “to be safe and healthy” is the most important thing for their child right now (64%*).  These brands and their devices are ready to help young parents achieve that sense of control over their children’s health and safety:

  • Burabi’s formula making machine precisely mixes formula and water, at a precise temperature, to ensure the bottle is filled with exactly what the parents intend. Foolproof!
  • Monkey’s smart “threadable” devices (for placing on shoes or hair ties) transmit a signal to an app on the parent’s device, alerting parents if children wander outside of a designated radius from the parent. No more wandering off at the park—or theme park!  And a great licensing opportunity for the right brand.
  • Orig3n’s DNA testing kits aren’t just for ancestry anymore. Their Child Development kit allows a parent to swab thechild’s mouth, send in the swab, and learn about genetic factors that can help predict areas where the child may excel or struggle in school, their probable aptitude for a variety of sports, and possible health and dietary concerns for which to watch out.

And then there was a lot of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for parents that could change the very nature of the way parents interact with their infants and toddlers.  In a way, today’s young children may never know what it’s like to be “alone.”  Of note:

  • The ZIB-1S intelligent robot is a smart baby monitor/speaker that recognizes the sound of an infant’s cry, and can alert the parent over WeChat, or tell a story to the child. As the child ages, the device becomes more of a teacher, helping with dates, math, and other topics.
  • Project Nursery has a Smart Baby Monitor system leveraging the existing Amazon Alexa, allowing a parent to remotely gauge the temperature of the nursery, have Alexa time a baby’s nap, or tell the child a story.
  • The Cocoon Cam (billed as the “Tesla of baby monitors”) allows two-way communication between the nursery and parent—and, unlike other smart baby monitors, requires no wearables on the infant. Instead, the monitor uses a camera to monitor the child’s breathing, and sends alerts to parents as needed.

Probably the most exciting devices for kids would be the augmented reality (AR) products (and YouthBeat® is curious about how many of these will pop up at Toy Fair next month too):

  • Square Panda’s series of toys uses apps and manipulatives to bridge the digital and physical divide. YouthBeat® has seen academic research showing that similar multisensory technology helps children learn better and interact with others more, versus simply playing with an app.
  • Similarly, Pai Technology’s apps leverage physical components as well. YouthBeat®’s favorite of their offerings is Ocean Pets, in which children mold colorful clay into fish designs, then scan them into an AR story under the sea.
  • Neobear’s MAGNEO is a handheld device housing their range of AR apps which interact with a variety of products: Flashcards bring zoo animals to life, a globe provides cultural information on a range of countries, and most interesting to YouthBeat®, the ability to scan in children’s drawings and manipulate the designs just by passing colorful objects in front of the sensor.
  • Octagon’s free app that brings flashcards to life on the topics of the human body, outer space, animals, dinosaurs, and more. YouthBeat®’s favorite is the Humanoid 4D+ deck—it’s medical school in a packet!

It was clear to YouthBeat® that the creators of these products genuinely like children—and parents—and want to use technology to improve their lives.  The Apple and VTECH events possibly couldn’t have occurred at a better time, to remind inventors that “real” life is still valuable, even fragile at times.  As an industry, we can’t produce technology just because it’s possible. Its positive impact on youths’ lives needs to outweigh any risks to which it may expose them.  We challenge our partners to take up that mantle and create safe and enriching devices and content for children.

*Source: YouthBeat®, Jr., September 2017

Tags: kids tweens teens market research, kids tweens teens, trends, YouthBeat, youth marketing, 2018 trends, technology

Looking Ahead into 2018

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 03:23 PM

This week American students headed back to school after their holiday break.  2017 was a dynamic year in current events, many of which will impact the lives of these kids, tweens, and teens for decades. We, at YouthBeat®, have identified four issues and trends in 2017 that we see as relevant enough to keep an eye on in 2018:

Women’s Rights Are Children’s Rights. 

From taking kids of both genders to women’s marches, to publicly taking a stand against sexual harassment with the #metoo campaign, to women—particularly African-American women—impacting an Alabama election,—2017 saw women claiming their rights and setting examples for boys and girls of all ages and races on how people should treat each other.

Come on Over.

Bans on people entering the US are sort of counter to what the US represents.  But children can’t control politics.  What they care about is the connection between family members—95% of kids say that mom is the most important person in the world to them, 85% say it’s dad, and 76% say it’s a sibling.* Children need their families.  Threats on DACA stand to impact over a million Dreamers.

Peace in the Eye of the Storm.

For children in Texas, Louisiana, or anyone with a relative in Puerto Rico, last year’s hurricanes were devastating.  In Houston, the community rallied to provide free school lunch for the entire 2017-2018 year.  But for children with a relative in Puerto Rico, the tragedy will likely impact them for a lifetime.

Re-Earthing.

While climate change is threatening the lives of people and animals, some organisms are gaining vitality for youths’ future.  Scientists have found a way to foster growth again in the Great Barrier Reef.  Snow leopards have been removed from the endangered species list.  Honeybees are making a comeback, and new pesticides are being developed that will keep them around.

At YouthBeat®, our POV is that youth—and their parents—can feel reassured that Earth will be habitable for their progeny.  Parents—and citizens—are making strides to make the US a better, more equitable, safer environment for the next generation.

*YouthBeat® Jan-June 2017

Tags: kids tweens teens market research, kids tweens teens, trends, YouthBeat, youth marketing, 2018 trends

Is YouTube Stardom Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be for Today’s Youth?

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 @ 11:50 AM

Every month, we ask YouthBeat® respondents what they want to be when they grow up.  In the last few years, we’ve seen growth in STEM-based careers like “Scientist” and “Architect,” among both male and female youth.  In the first half of 2017, the youngest kids are most likely to want to be a professional athlete (17%), as are Tweens (12%, tied with “I don’t know”).  Teens, facing down their careers most closely, are the most uncertain—they are most likely to answer “I don’t know” (21%).*

Yet, a recent study in the UK reported that 75% of youth ages 6-17 want to be a YouTube influencer.** Other popular career choices include model and pop star.  The authors attribute these aspirations to a desire to express youths’ creativity and personal uniqueness, while also acquiring fame.  Meanwhile in the U.S., SocialStar Creator Camp grooms teens who want to appear on media from YouTube creations to Saturday Night Live.

But are performance-based career goals truly fulfilling?  A recent NPR article suggests that they are hard work, and not always self-actualizing.  YouTube personalities generally write, direct, edit, and produce their own material.  And they’re met with trolls on every post—hating on posts is the modern form of bullying by anonymous critics.  Waiting for the dopamine rush generated by more followers, likes, and clicks is fraught with worry about such trolls.

At YouthBeat®, our POV is that social media stardom is at best a fleeting pastime.  Young people are sure to be adored by their parents, grandparents, and acquaintances, but need to be protected from the bilious anonymous criticism of the public.  Careers can only be developed by the random few—and trades and STEM lines of work are likely to be more psychologically and financially profitable for most of Generation Z.

*Source: YouthBeat® Jan-June 2017
**Source: TheSun 2017

Tags: youth research, Youth, kids tweens teens, youth media, YouthBeat, YouTube