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Nickelodeon Kaleidoscope: Doing Their Part

In April, we reported that while kids and teens have a wealth of knowledge about world issues, they sometimes feel these issues are beyond their reach when it comes to making a significant difference. However, 'starting small' - doing things to affect change in their communities and neighborhoods, such as picking up litter, contributing to food drives and recycling - is an idea they're comfortable with. Kids and teens are aware that taking action in a small way trickles up to broader world issues. It's clear kids and teens want to do their part, and involvement becomes most rewarding and attainable when it's done in their communities and neighborhoods.
May 8, 2009

In April, we reported that while kids and teens have a wealth of knowledge about world issues, they sometimes feel these issues are beyond their reach when it comes to making a significant difference. However, ‘starting small’ – doing things to affect change in their communities and neighborhoods, such as picking up litter, contributing to food drives and recycling – is an idea they’re comfortable with. Kids and teens are aware that taking action in a small way trickles up to broader world issues. It’s clear kids and teens want to do their part, and involvement becomes most rewarding and attainable when it’s done in their communities and neighborhoods.

Kids and teens were very specific when talking about community/neighborhood issues, and it was evident that these, in some way, matter even more than global issues when it comes to helping. According to the sample, the biggest issues affecting their communities/neighborhoods are the economy, the environment, violence, drugs and bullying. These issues affect their homes and their daily lives, so kids and teens feel an even greater sense of urgency to do something about them and welcome opportunities to get involved. It was clear that when a kid or teen was personally affected by an issue, they became experts in dealing with it. Their peers gravitated towards these ‘expert’ individuals and valued their points of view, which proves that when an issue becomes more real, kids and teens become more emotionally open and committed.

Local schools and religious institutions have played key roles in providing some of the tools and information kids and teens need to get involved. Respondents also expressed interest in various other issues beyond those tackled at school. But without being given the ‘who, what, when, where and why,’ kids don’t always know what next steps to take to initiate action. Service is an initiated process, and many won’t be the first to take the steps themselves. While awareness is there, the motivation may not be. Family also plays a big part in getting kids and teens involved. The family aspect is especially important to acknowledge as this is an area that can offer bonding experiences, as well as empowering young people as leaders and experts in the family unit, depending on the issue.

More than 60% of all kids and teens believe they’ve played some type of role in making a difference, with 100% of older teens (ages 16 to 17) stating they’ve done ‘at least one’ actionable duty. These actions are mostly school-driven, but they also include independent initiatives. We know ‘helping’ is on everyone’s radar, but when we asked how important it is to make a difference, only four in 10 said it’s ‘very important,’ and for 16- to 17-year-olds, this figure drops to two in 10. In the larger picture of what’s important, helping factors in. However, it is less important than their other kid/teen duties, such as school, sports, extra-curricular activities, etc. Though this may be true, it doesn’t mean kids don’t care. It’s more likely an indication that issues take a backseat to other things going on in their lives and aren’t top of mind, or that they lack the tools and/or motivation to do something about it on their own.

Next month, Kaleidoscope will explore the role brands and advertising play in the kid/teen world, seeking to better understand the influence of each. For more information, contact Erin Miller at Kaleidoscope@nick.com

(Source: Nickelodeon Kids and Family Research, Jan. 09; Touchstone Research, Jan, 09. Quant Sample size: N = 500)

In an effort to keep you in touch with our audience and give a voice to our consumers, the Brand and Consumer Insights Department at Nickelodeon Kids & Family has created Nickelodeon Kaleidoscope. Every month, Kaleidoscope will capture key areas of interest across the kid and family cultural landscape, provide an understanding of attitudes and behaviors, and report on trends and buzz.

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