Did you know that eight-year-old boys typically will not log onto Club Penguin by themselves? Or that most kids under age 11 are as hesitant to enter an unfamiliar online community as they are an unfamiliar real-world place, like a public swimming pool? And how should that affect the plans of kids brands that are increasingly turning to the digital world to appeal to their target audience? Well that’s exactly what new marketing agency Kids Industries Digital will be figuring out for its clients.
Having just launched last month, the London, England-based joint-venture between research firm Kids Industries and tech design company Folk UK has gotten the ball rolling with a biggish study examining kids’ attitudes towards what they do and see online. Among other things, the research project, which polled 278 UK kids ages seven to 11, found they spend on average two hours and five minutes online each day. A full 94% of kids surveyed named gaming as their favorite online pastime, with chatting to friends coming in second at 78%. What’s interesting is that when it comes to virtual worlds, 72% of the kids said they dislike communicating with people they don’t know, and no girls in the seven to nine group reported liking it.
It’s not that they don’t enjoy virtual worlds at all – about 25% said they do. However, during the qualitative portion of the research, Kids Industries partner Gary Pope and his team discovered that kids like visiting sites knowing their friends will be there, often phoning each other beforehand to arrange to meet arranging to meet online later. And kids are six times more communicative with each other when physically parked in front of a computer screen than when tasked with putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Also interesting, Kids Industries Digital found that kids like to enter virtual worlds while paired up and sitting in front of a computer together. But existing sites don’t take that into consideration, failing to offer games that can accommodate two players seated in front of one screen.
Folk UK founder Matt Butterworth has taken on the role of CEO for the 50/50 venture, and the company’s first major project went live on September 20. KID designed a microsite for Cartoon Network UK’s live-action series, My Spy Family. While this one targets journalists rather than kids, it reflects the look and feel of a kids online environment. The journalists were given a secret code and sent on a mission at the site to find information on the show and a launch party being held by CN.