Having never known a world without the internet, today’s tweens are proving to be a bit flummoxing when it comes to providing them with relevant, engaging media content. And driven by the quest to find out how differently tweens consume media and view their place in the world, Disney XD undertook a lengthy pan-European study of the demo. The net just released its findings and the effect they will have on program development.
The study revealed the existence of a new generation of digitally savvy eight- to
14-year-olds with a heightened awareness of their future and that of the planet. Coined Generation XD, the study concentrates on the kids belonging to Gen-X parents and was conducted as part of Disney XD’s ongoing channel research. More than 3,000 eight- to 14-year-olds in six countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain) were polled.
Victoria Hardy, executive director of EMEA Research, Disney Channels, says the project, which took two years to complete, is helping Disney XD develop and deliver relevant entertainment that incorporates themes important to tweens’ lives. For example, she says, the findings pointed to a need to create boys programs featuring an aspirational character that speaks to their core value of accomplishment. Subsequently, the net’s been developing series with strong male leads. That will help the resulting shows relate to boys on a deeper level.
Disney contends the results also shatter many myths about children’s relationships with the internet and their attitudes towards family and celebrity culture. Hardy says her research team was particularly interested in three key findings.
First, it discovered kids are using the internet in a very positive way that includes entertainment, such as gaming, as well as homework-related research. In fact, homework (59%) scored second only to gaming (74%) as the most common use of the platform. Second, Disney XD discovered kids are using the internet to enhance their social interaction, rather than replace it altogether – preferring face-to-face interaction, while using social networks, emailing and texting as other means of keeping up with their friends. Finally, the study revealed that despite living in a celebrity-focused culture, kids largely aren’t aspiring to be famous themselves, and look more to community-minded careers such as teachers, vets and police officers. And in every single country, respondents said the person they admire most in the world is their mom at 43%, with dad coming second at 30%.
This demo also said caring for the environment is important. A full 97% believe it is important to look after the planet. (74% said they recycle regularly.) Additionally, despite the credit crunch, which is in part a result of the credit-and-debt culture of their parents’ generation, modern tweens are establishing good financial habits early – 70% are saving their pocket money rather than spending it immediately, while 64% said they would much rather work for themselves than for someone else when they grow up.
Launched internationally in the UK in August 2009, Disney XD has now completed its European expansion. All former Jetix channels have been rebranded as Disney XD, with the most recent being the Netherlands in January. And speaking to the study’s potential for honing localized market strategies, Hardy says the findings revealed more commonalities than differences across territories. Disney XD found key trends in social and economic values to be universal among this demo.