Kid Insight

Where the boys are

Forget frogs, snails and puppy dog tails. New research from Nickelodeon's Brand and Consumer Insights department reveals that video games, sports and a sense of humor are what today's boys are made of.
September 16, 2011

Forget frogs, snails and puppy dog tails. New research from Nickelodeon’s Brand and Consumer Insights department reveals that video games, sports and a sense of humor are what today’s boys are made of.

Here at Nickelodeon, we went boy crazy with our most recent Kaleidoscope project. Leaving the girls aside for this study, we wanted to give boys their moment in the spotlight and explore the cultural landscape of boys ages seven to 12. From video games and sports, to TV and more, we set out to understand the importance of the activities in which boys choose to engage.

We know the significant role video games play in kids’ lives. For boys, playing video games is often their choice as a top free-time activity. Boys, even at the youngest end, are extremely knowledgeable about the category and have a sophisticated way of talking about gaming. Boys also approach gaming in a different way than girls do. This is a boastful category, and boys want to show off how much they know about games. New releases, game developers, gaming secrets and cheat codes are just a few areas that boys like to express just how much they know about to their peers. Speaking of peers, this is a category that boys discuss with their friends in depth. As they get older, boys want to talk less about the fun or casualness of game play and come off more as hard-core gamers.

Don’t let this fool you into believing that boys are only choosing to spend their time indoors. Playing sports ranks a close second for boys when it comes to choosing a free-time activity. It’s no surprise how important sports are in boys’ lives. While only a quarter of them report playing on an organized team during these summer months, it doesn’t mean they’re hibernating. Boys are actively involved in outdoor sports activities with friends—think swimming, skateboarding and much more. And this doesn’t include sports-focused camps that many attend during the summer months. Once the school year kicks into high gear, boys are very likely to be a part of a team, and are often involved in more than one sport throughout the year. Because boys are so passionate about sports, it makes sense that they would choose to engage in sports-related content, as it taps into a genuine interest in their everyday lives.
When it comes to the content boys are watching on the small screen, their choices truly reflect the types of things they are interested in at this stage. For example, we know how important humor is to boys. They gravitate towards “stupid,” “random” and “silly” humor and look for content that delivers the goods. Commonly, boys turn to animated comedy their fix.

Reality TV is also playing an interesting role for boys, as it’s tapping into an authentic sense of adventure that they’re not only interested in, but may experience in real life, too. Programs such as I Shouldn’t Be Alive, River Monsters and Dirty Jobs portray “real-life adventure” that excites boy viewers. For this age group, boys truly are straddling childhood and adulthood in what they choose to watch. This not only holds true for the TV, but for movies as well.

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