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Deciphering what children want

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Deciphering what children want

Catering to a TG that is young, still evolving as the society shapes and shifts around us, whose interests are ever changing and attention spans are very short, poses a big challenge to marketers.

For Vasantha Angamuthu, Editor, Hindustan Times, marketing should be more about creating experiences that shape, nurture, mould and comfort a young person when they are at their most vulnerable.

While there are varied reactions and replies to the question as to what kids want, it is vital for marketers as well as content creators for kids to know the answer.

Jatin Varma, Founder, Twenty Onwards Media shared that it is very difficult to catch kids’ attention these days and cater to their tastes. On the other hand, Myleeta Aga, General Manager and Creative Head, BBC Worldwide Productions India said that children want freedom, self-determination and play above all else.

Constant mental and physical stimulation is what Krishna Desai, Director, Programming South Asia, Turner International India said children want the most. Film maker Nila Madhab Panda, who has made the award-winning film ‘I am Kalam’, felt it is best to treat children as people as they do not want to be called or treated as kids.

Proving that these sentiments are not from Indians alone but are universal, Denise Carlson, Former Director, Original Movies, Disney Channel, USA too voiced similar sentiments when she said that what kids want most is to dream and explore the world as well as themselves. She stated that kids’ attention spans have shortened since there are so many more choices vying for their attention.

Industry experts unanimously agree that today technology is playing a vital role in kids’ lives and also shaping their preferences and choices. Madhab Panda went on to state that technology is slowly replacing parents in a child’s life, as he or she has constant access to it vis-à-vis their parents, who are often busy with their work.

Agreed Desai when he said, “There is a huge increase in kids accessing technology. Since they have so much more, they have become experts in multi-tasking. Hence, attention spans have shortened.”

Carlson had a word of advice for content creators for children. She said, “You have to understand who you are developing content for. Kids today have specific idea about what they want to watch.” At the same time, kids’ interests are also ever-changing.

According to Aga, identifying the age group of kids correctly matters a lot while creating content for them. For instance, even in the 4-10 age group, the interest of a four-year old will be different from that of a 10-year old. But regardless of what age they belong to, Aga said that kids are always open to newer content.

Angamuthu noted that kids are now are exposed to a lot of content on TV, internet, mobile phones, etc. which might not be appropriate for them and it is not always possible to police the content that they are watching.

Aga here made an observation that there are times when children are unwittingly exposed to adult content. In India, parents tend to take their children along with them wherever they go and kids watch content without any filters.

While television content creators for kids keep the content clean and parents also monitor what they watch, there is no such filter for cinema. As Madhab Panda noted, “TV channels are doing some great things for children, but there are problems with cinema, especially that of censorship.” He also lamented the fact that not enough cinema content is produced for kids.

Vasantha Angamuthu, Denise Carlson, Krishna Desai, Myleeta Aga, Jatin Varma and Nila Madhab Panda were speaking at a session titled ‘Content Creation for Children and the Entertainment Business for Children’ at the World Children Expo, held in Delhi on May 25, 2012.


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