The lovely folks at Insight Media invited us to their offices in the hopes of giving us insight into the mysterious minds of the illusive 9-12 age range. Insight Kids is a research driven strategy firm dedicated to the development of innovative, impactful and inspiring experiences for kids and families. I just made that up! Just kidding, that’s Insight’s mission statement. http://www.insightstrategygroup.com/
Ready to delve into the mind’s of 9-12 year olds? Or as Insight likes to call them the Kiderati (as in the upper echelon of kiddom). Well, let’s start by taking a quick look at their kid counterparts. 3-5 year olds are going from being dependent to exploring the world around them. 6-8 year olds are going from exploring the world around them to figuring out who they are in the world. 9-12 year olds are going from figuring out who they are in the world to learning how to be their best selves. They’re thinking about the future, they’re multi-tasking they’re evaluating what they’re good at. I’m pretty sure I’m still one of them.
But even within that 9-12 age range the kids are drastically different. The 9s are looking for simple stories, they’re impatient to get to the good stuff while 12 year olds are looking for more complex, engaging stories and they’ll wait for a payoff over time. The 12s also grasp nuances more easily. Physically, their bodies are different, too. The 9s have kids’ bodies, baby teeth and smooth skin. The 12s look more adult, they’re starting to wear braces (Yuck! That was me) and get zits. Socially, the 9s are still dependent on mom and dad and they mostly have same sex peer groups. The 12s are becoming independent of their parents and are interested in the opposite sex.
But calm down, would be programmers for this age group, there are still similarities within the age range. These kids are all grappling with fragile self-esteem, body image worries, they’re identifying their interests and forming social cliques. They’re starting to specialize, plug in, they worry about bullies, they care about the world.
So what is this vastly differing age range looking for in their media experiences? They use media to help manage their moods, explore new places, experience safe failure and virtual success through games. They want content that makes them laugh, feel smart, that lets them still be kids, that is edgy and rule-breaking, that shows hyper talented role models. They want media that’s just for them. They want media that helps them do their homework, relax, get social cred, and help them navigate the work of growing up. Tall order, eh? All right, there’s the info, no go to!
Main Takeaway: The way I see it, programming for this age group is not unlike programming for adults. I don’t think you’re going to please all of the kids all of the time. In the same way that your American Horror Story crowd may not also be watching Seventh Heaven. (Can you tell I’m an AHS viewer? I couldn’t even think of a current Seventh Heaven equivalent.) Don’t feel like you need to program for all of their interests all at once. That would be crazy! They’re just too nuanced -like adults.
Personal Takeaway: The presentation had me thinking “of course” a lot but I realized I hadn’t thought about being a 9 year old in a long time. They’re not some illusive alien target audience, in fact I don’t think I’m all that different from my 9 year old self. I’m going to take that as a plus.
Inappropriate Takeaway: With kids becoming more and more tech savvy, I’m wondering if there may be any 9 year olds out there who’d like to be my part time IT team? I’ll pay you in popsicles and soda just like I got when I was a kid and used to babysit. Anyone?