LiveWire went on-line this month to talk to over 100 moms and dads with toddlers. We wanted to explore a dynamic we began watching closely a few years ago: Kids Are Getting Older Younger (KAGOY). We had a sense from a similar investigation last year that the major factors in this trend were heightened toddler TV viewing and early exposure to new technology. We examined these and other trends closely, and found that KAGOY is alive and well, and as far as parents are concerned, accelerating rapidly.
What we found:
We asked our panel to consider and react to the following statement:
Marketers say that kids today are growing up faster than ever before. Some even say that kids between the ages of three and five are more like eight- or nine-year-olds from decades past, in terms of their brand knowledge and influence, as well as play patterns and relationships with toys.
About 75% of the parents agree with the statement, saying they believe the causes to be exposure to new technologies and increased television viewing.
Kids hitting the keyboard at two
Asked to comment on their response, parents most often credit steady computer usage for the age acceleration. A resounding 94% of parents with children below the age of five report that their kids use the computer, adding that 62% of their children started around the age of two. Most of the children use the computer between one and three hours a week.
Parents say they generally encourage toddlers to use the computer, crediting PC use with advanced academic development, and citing the massive benefits that come from the use of educational computer games. The most common educational programs mentioned were JumpStart, Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues titles. Parents also showed solid support for general computer usage, saying computer proficiency is an essential skill for future success.
Toddlers and TV
Toddlers are watching lots of TV. Their viewing averages between five and 15 hours a week, up from last year’s count. Our parents believe this increase is partially due to the popular use of TV as babysitter. They also attribute escalated viewing to an increase in toddler-targeted programming, and pointed to programming blocks as a catalyst for extended viewing. The most popular programs named were Blue’s Clues, Arthur, Little Bear and Sesame Street.
What parents said:
The increased viewing trend seems to be behind a secondary trend that’s just as important: Increased brand awareness. Parents recognize an increased emphasis on toddler-targeted marketing, and note that a new abundance of branding messages are being directed at the toddler segment.
‘I am sure that I was not as well versed in brands and the world as a whole when I was four. I was oblivious to most of these things.’
Susan, New Jersey (has a son age four)
‘We have a friend whose child is only two-and-a-half and all he knows are brand names, especially Nike. I think that has a lot to do with the parents’ influence and all of the brands on TV. Even public television runs little segments about their sponsors.’
Alexandriah, Colorado (has a daughter age three)
‘Kids now seem to be more knowledgeable when it comes to brands, and they seem to be more advanced for their age.’
Kelly, Arizona (has a daughter age two and a son age five)
‘I think that kids are very observant these days and notice brands very often. The more we expose our kids to different brands the more they will know.’ Sara, Maryland (has a son age four)
Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online,
a proprietary panel of more than 1,100 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based
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
212-415-2992 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.