To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States.
Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-337-6442 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, LiveWire asked kids age eight to 12 their opinions on the Internet, its role in their lives and what they think is in store for the Internet in the future.
What we found:
Everyone we spoke to is extremely familiar with the Internet, and they go on-line an average of four times per week. They were able to provide in-depth descriptions of the Internet and its capabilities.
What was most noteworthy was that our young panel has a real thirst for information that the Internet seems to satisfy. All expressed excitement about the fact that virtually any kind of information they want is at their fingertips. They generally put the Internet to good use, especially when it comes to doing research for school. Of course, they also enjoy chatting and playing games.
Whether a Web site is educational or entertainment-oriented, what make a site appealing are versatility, the level of challenge, regular updates and good graphics. Our panelists also like it when Web sites offer ‘free stuff.’ Web sites that are slow, have outdated information or have limited links are considered more of a nuisance and are generally avoided after the first visit.
Although nothing could take the place of hangin’ out with friends, we have already seen television viewing diminish as kids make time for surfing the Web. There’s no doubt that our kids view the Internet as a source of entertainment. Many said they prefer the Internet to just watching TV, pointing to its interactivity and diversity as primary reasons. Marcus, age 9, from South Carolina, supports his preference for the Internet by the fact that he has more control over what he experiences. ‘I think it’s better because you decide what’s on the screen.’ And Joshua, age 12, from Ohio, says that, ‘on the Internet, you can do almost anything by just sitting at a desk and typing on the computer. [With] anything else, you have to go to a lot of places to do as much stuff as you can on the Net.’
The Internet occupies an important place in kids’ lives. Many think that, in the future, the Internet will play an even more vital role, and envision it simplifying their lives. We asked kids to tell us how, and we got some very creative responses:
‘The Internet will be the communication of the future. . . . It will take the place of phones, faxes and catalogues.’ Heather, Arizona, age 11
‘The Internet will replace the telephone or the computer and the telephone will be one unit and it will be a videophone. You’ll be able to order a movie over the Internet, actually see a movie over the Internet. It will replace the postal service, except for package delivery.’ Joshua, Illinois, age 12
‘Talk face-to-face with real people, apply for jobs, maybe even do work, control stuff in your own house, like your heat, lights and stuff.’ Joshua, Pennsylvania, age 12
‘Buy groceries, get tickets to things, have more choices of items to buy, like clothing and Christmas presents, meet people in virtual reality spaces, have video chats with people, use the computer as a digital camera and send pictures to people without scanning printed photographs.’ Sarah, South Carolina, age 10
‘In the future, new things will be invented and the Internet may be able to help people with keeping up with the new information and changes. Also, traffic will be worse and gas will be expensive, so the more work and shopping that can be done from home, the better it will be.’ Marcus, South Carolina, age 9