Make way for family-generated content

From taking on trending challenges, to creating funny videos, families are increasingly creating content together during the pandemic.
February 5, 2021

By: Wynne Tyree and Erin Miller 

During the trying times of the past year, the role of media has become more important than ever before as families try to combat their daily boredom. But they aren’t just consuming content, they’re becoming creators of it, too. Videos featuring the entire family—generated by tech-savvy Gens Z and Alpha, along with compliant parents who have become kids’ playmates—have cemented a place in the digital landscape. Parents and kids are uploading everything from the funny to the informative, and from the pragmatic to the heartfelt. Their goal is to share with the world…and the world is here for it.

When surveyed, 44% of kids say their favorite part about being home more than usual is spending time with their families. Bite- size, family-friendly content not only helps bring parents and kids together to explore a common interest, it also gives them ideas for other things they can do together.

Content centered on families certainly isn’t anything new, but it feels more indulgent and important than ever because it’s now fulfilling fundamental needs created by the pandemic. First, anyone craving escapist, feel-good content can find relief from the anxiety-rid- den nature of the 24-hour news cycle and the stresses of co-confinement. (And what’s not to love about watching a mom try to hover board?)

Second, all-family UGC plays a normalization role by assuring viewers that we’re all in this together. By seeing the experiences of other families, kids can find comfort in knowing that their feelings are shared by people all around the world (and even by celeb families, too).

Finally, family videos are helping break up the predictability of studio-produced (and often longer-form) content that is typically created for kids or parents.

Family-centric content can’t be talked about without first acknowledging the pioneers in wholesome family vlogging. The Atwoods, the Holdernesses and the ACEs are just a few that have made “being a family” their profession. Showcasing pranks, challenges and even the mundane, they’ve paved the way for everyday families to broadcast their own antics across social media.

No platform is helping serve up this type of content better than TikTok. Once reserved for Gen Zs and young Millennials, a recent shift has seen older users joining the platform in the last few months. (Spoiler: “Older” means 30 and up in the TikTok sphere.) Qualitatively, we’ve see that families, too, have begun to flex their creative muscle on TikTok, giving us a peek into their personal bubble. It’s the medicine we didn’t know we all needed.

Here are a few of the all-family content trends taking over social media.

A little about me…
The “This or That Challenge” recently took social media by storm. Set to Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky,” these short videos showcase a series of “this” or “that” text bubbles that provide two options of everyday activities or events on either side of the screen. Kids and parents dance their way towards their preference, revealing a little about themselves along the way. Gordon Ramsay recently got in on the trend with his daughter, who chose “mum’s cooking” over his.

Let’s “go out,” while we stay in
Since everyone is stuck at home, kids and their parents are taking to mimicking what they’d be doing in the outside world indoors as a form of escapism. This trend was more prevalent in the early days of lockdown, but it continues to provide lots of laughs, from a family creating “Club Quarantine” for their son’s 21st birthday, to families recreating restaurant or hotel experiences from the comfort of their homes.

The new family game night
Forget board games. Families are posting their at-home gameplay through activities like the “Ping Pong Challenge” and the “Flour Challenge.” They’re even getting pets in on the games with the “Level Up Challenge” that sees beloved dogs and cats scaling ever-taller toilet paper walls.

Move + groove
There are certain things in culture that have always bridged the generation gap—music and dance are two of them. And both live at the center of several multi-generational family- friendly videos on Instagram and TikTok. There’s a multitude of TikTok dances for families to learn together (“Blinding Lights,” “Something New” and “Magic in the Hamptons,” to name just a few). Another music-based trend is the “Songs I Know vs. Don’t Know Challenge,” which sees families testing their music knowledge. The “Bop It! Challenge,” meanwhile, has parents using their kids as props instead of the ’90s interactive toy.

Mealtime prep
Parents and kids cooking meals together is a cherished tradition, and there are a host of videos on YouTube and TikTok featuring just that. Sometimes the videos are straight “how to” tutorials, and sometimes they’re backed by a catchy song and dance. When it comes to dinnertime, families are shaking up their routines by turning humdrum mealtimes into themed dinner parties, such as TV or movie nights (like a Star Wars evening), decades nights (think the roaring ’20s) or by dressing up as another member of the family.

Let out the playful trolls
While teens have a long history of mocking their parents, the adults are flipping the script in homemade videos. Also popular are parents imitating the chaos kids evoke being stuck at home 24/7. Even parents of young toddlers are posting videos that poke fun at words they’re trying to pronounce.

Wholesome family fun
What would FGC be without celebrating the simple joys of being a family? “The Sibling Challenge” sets up parents to answer questions and chose which sibling the answers pertains to. The “I’m Just a Kid” trend is a nostalgic look at families recreating old photos through video, while “Hi, Mom/Dad” is a celebration of the generations in one family calling their moms and dads into the shot, leaving everyone wanting to give their parents a big hug.

All-in family content isn’t showing any signs of tapering off. In fact, it’s likely to only get stronger and more creative. Why is this con- tent trend having its moment now? Aside from families spending more time together than ever, daily life has gone through a dramatic shift. In adapting to new routines—like remote learning and video meetings—families have been forced to embrace technology.

Instead of parents rejecting tech, they now see it as a gateway to the human contact we’re all craving. With that in mind, parents are becoming more comfortable not only with technology, but also with being in front of the camera.

One other possibility is that parents are taking a cue from their aspiring-influencer kids and trying to capitalize on their time in quarantine to become family influencers. If the cranberry juice-drinking skateboarder taught the world anything, it’s that social media stardom can happen to anyone, at any given moment.

In the meantime, a note to families every- where—keep giving us a glimpse into your homes and lives, and we’ll happily keep refreshing our social feeds.

Wynne Tyree is the founder and president of Smarty Pants, a youth and family research and consulting firm. Erin Miller is an insights professional with expertise in youth culture, generational theory and emerging trend identification.

About The Author
Wynne Tyree is the founder and president of Smarty Pants, a youth and family market research and consulting firm. She is also a leading authority on kids’ digital engagement and IP development. Contact Wynne at



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