In a move that gives BBC Children’s audiences more ways to create and share interactive content, the UK pubcaster has launched CBBC Buzz, a new app for under-13s featuring ultra-short videos, GIFs, challenges, quizzes and memes.
Available for free on Amazon Fire, Android and iOS devices, the kid-safe platform will offer 40 new pieces of content per day in two daily content drops, which will occur before and after school.
Like other existing social networks, kids will be able to curate their own feed by choosing their favorite CBBC shows and the topics they want to follow. And with parental permission, children can take part in challenges based on series like Danger Mouse, The Next Step and The Blue Planet.
Kids can also react to any piece of content through expressive emojis and tap on community icons to see what other users have posted in response to a challenge. In addition to parental controls, a moderation team approves or declines every piece of user-generated content to ensure age-appropriateness.
As for tools designed to help users navigate online risks like cyber-bullying, online privacy and malware, the app features content from the BBC’s new website Own It. The portal was the first product to launch as part of the Beeb’s previously announced US$44-million, digital-centric funding injection in children’s programming.
CBBC Buzz was developed in Salford by BBC Children’s together with interactive entertainment company Chunk.
The product arrives following the BBC’s recent admission in its 2018/19 Annual Plan that it is losing young viewers to other social media platforms like YouTube and streaming services such as Netflix. It also reported that the average weekly reach of CBBC among six- to 12-year-olds dropped from close to 40% in 2012 to less than 20% in 2017—and that the growth of CBBC online has not compensated for the fall.
CBBC Buzz also comes on the heels of other new apps for under-13s including Facebook’s Messenger Kids and The LEGO Group’s LEGO Life. It also follows new US research from Insight Kids, which found that 100% of US kids ages five to 12 are using social media via one platform or another. According to Insight Kids, five- to six-year-olds are using social media to learn, observe and stay in touch with family and friends, seven- to 10-year-olds become more active as they start to subscribe and follow others and create content by commenting on friends’ posts, while at 11 years old, activities include sharing personal photos, videos, stories and memes.