Television as a media platform is still the top way in which families together watch their favourite shows.
That’s according to the recently released study, Are the Kids All Right? Canadian Families and Television in the Digital Age, an initiative of the Youth Media Alliance (YMA) and supported and funded by the Bell Fund. The Canada Media Fund, which funded the study translation, also contributed to the report.
There’s also an opportunity for Canadian producers to capitalize on TV viewing as a family “event” by creating more homegrown programming for kids ages nine to 12 years old.
Parents interviewed as part of the study agree that Canadian programming for the preschool to ages seven and eight is prevalent and well-received.
And according to the study, which was conducted in two phases, the nine to 12 demo is a good target for reviving kids’ interest in Canadian programming.
The payoff for Canadian producers would be creating long-term loyalty to made-in-Canada TV.
“Though [kids] may have been avid viewers of Canadian-made preschool programs, this interest is beginning to waver as parents and children alike both admit to a lack of awareness regarding Canadian-made programs for nine- to 12-year-olds. Producing more quality programs for this age bracket would grip their attention once again and help young Canadians identify with their community as well as create long-term invested interest in Canadian arts and entertainment,” the study states.
The study, led by Andre H. Caron, professor of communications at the Universite de Montreal and director of the Centre for Youth and Media Studies, was conducted over three years and in two phases.
More than 500 Canadian TV children’s programs were analyzed in the first phase, and, according to the report, the analysis showed gaps in availability and diversity of programs targeted specifically to tweens.
In the second phase, researchers looked at the role, perception and influence of TV in Canadian households, and how kids in this age group use second-screen media.
Researchers interviewed Canadian families in five Canadian cities – St. John’s, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
Parents in Toronto expressed a need for more knowledge-based kids TV content to complement their children’s educations, while parents in Quebec wanted more locally created program for tweens.
While parents’ involvement in mediating their children’s TV viewing habits differed regionally, the resounding message was that TV is still the most commonly used platform in Canadian households to create a shared family experience.
Second screens, while used by older children in the nine to 12 demo, were considered complementary to traditional TV viewing, and provided new ways for viewers to interact with what they were watching, according to the study’s findings.
TV was also considered as more than a static platform to consume media, but also a learning tool, via knowledge-based programming, and shows that instill a sense of heritage and community by highlighting a particular culture or home region.
From Playback online
Image from Are the Kids All Right?