Report: 90% of Tweens are Playing Online Games & Kids' Mobile and Social Media Use is on the Rise

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Kids and Games: What Boys and Girls are Playing Today is a new report launched by M2 Research and youth marketing research firm KidSay. Survey data was collected from over 5,000 kids across the United States.

The report finds a significant increase in kids' online gaming and social media usage. 90 Percent of tweens are playing games online, with mobile and social media use on the rise, as well.

Some of the highlights of the report:

1. Social Networking: Social Networking is increasingly prevalent in children's lives. Facebook is now the favorite website among tween (8-11) boys and teen (12-15) girls.

2. Key Demographic and "Sweet Spot": Online games dominate for boys and girls ages 8-11. 91% of tween boys and 93% of tween girls play games online.

3. Nintendo Dominates Handheld Gaming Space: But thanks largely to the iPad and iPhone, Apple is becoming a significant player especially with girls.

4. Portable Platform Discrepancy: Sony's PSP has largest gender discrepancy. 17% of teen girls play games on the PSP compared to 44% of teen boys.

5. Strong Videogame Franchises: Franchises continue to flourish at the top of the "Favorites" list for boys and girls. The videogame franchise girls prefer is the Mario Series, with 20% of girls picking it as their favorite. Boys prefer Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, with 36% of teen boys picking it as their favorite game.

"We have found kids tend to play a wide variety of games, and their favorite games and gaming sites change often." explains Louise Curcio, M2 Research Analyst. "There are opportunities for companies, and we believe the kids market has been overlooked."


Nielsen: African-Americans, Women and Southerners Talk and Text The Most in the U.S.

Think you can guess which Americans talk or text the most on their mobile phones?

American kids under 18 send and receive roughly 2,800 texts per month, according to Nielsen, or about 93 per day. (Assuming 7 hours of sleep per night, on average, that's about 5.5 per hour spent awake, or one every 10 minutes or so.) In the next two age brackets, text-message usage falls by more than half each.

 

African-Americans and Hispanics Text the Most

According to Nielsen, African-Americans use the most voice minutes – on average more than 1,300 a month. Hispanics are the next most talkative group, chatting an average of 826 minutes a month. Even Asians/Pacific Islanders, with 692 average monthly minutes, talk more than Whites, who use roughly 647 voice minutes a month.

Hispanics send and receive around 767 SMS messages a month while African-Americans send and receive around 780 – significantly more than Asians/Pacific Islanders (384 texts a month) and Whites (566 texts a month).

The voice and text results are compiled from one year (April 2009-March 2010) of mobile usage data gathered by the The Nielsen Company, which analyzes the cellphone bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers each month in the United States.

Women Have Their Say

And if you think women in the U.S. talk more than men on their cellphones, Nielsen data confirms your suspicion. On average, women talk 22 % more than men (856.3 minutes a month compared to men’s 666.7).

Turns out, American women are more communicative in general on mobile devices; they text more, too, sending or receiving an average of 601 SMS messages a month compared to the 447 monthly text messages sent or received by the average American male.

Teens Rule for Texting

Not surprisingly, teens text the most, sending or receiving an amazing 2,779 SMS messages a month. In the next two age brackets, text usage falls by more than half each time, with those aged 18-24 sending or receiving 1,299 messages and those aged 25-34 exchanging an average of 592 messages.

While the text usage varies greatly between those 18-24 and those 25-34, their voice usage is quite close (981 voice minutes for 18-24 and 952 minutes a month for those 25-34 years old.)

The South Speaks Up

Location plays into usage patterns as well. Southerners are the most talkative, but while Florida ranks high in terms of monthly voice minutes used, it ranks very low for text messaging (the state has one of the highest median ages and older Americans text the least.) Mississippi, interestingly enough, ranks high for both talking and texting.

via blog.nielsen.com

Related: Mobile Web Key to Continued Growth at Facebook


Summer Must-Read for Kids? Any Book

Has your child cracked a book this summer?

Although adults often jump at the chance to catch up on their reading during vacations, many children and teenagers, particularly those from low-income families, read few, if any, books during the summer break from school.

But the price for keeping the books closed is a high one. Several studies have documented a “summer slide” in reading skills once school lets out each spring. The decline in reading and spelling skills are greatest among low-income students, who lose the equivalent of about two months of school each summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association, an education advocacy group. And the loss compounds each year.

Now new research offers a surprisingly simple, and affordable, solution to the summer reading slide. In a three-year study, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that simply giving low-income children access to books at spring fairs — and allowing them to choose books that most interested them — had a significant effect on the summer reading gap.

Read more >> well.blogs.nytimes.com


Cartoon Network Launches 'Stop Bullying: Speak Up' Campaign

Cartoon_network_stop_bullying_logoLast week the Cartoon Network announced further details of its multi-platform Bullying Prevention Campaign at the National Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, DC.

Speaking to an audience comprised of government officials, business leaders and leading educators of bullying prevention, Cartoon Network’s President and Chief Operations Officer Stuart Snyder unveiled the official title of the campaign—STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP—which will serve to educate and empower young bystanders to take action to reduce/prevent bullying.

Bystanders represent the 75-85% of students in schools that witness incidents of bullying every year, whether on the playground, in the classroom, on the bus, on social media websites, or cell phones.

The STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP on-air and online CAMPAIGN will launch in October to coordinate with the fifth annual National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Center for Bullying Prevention.

Related: Digital Parenting Resources: Teens, Social Networking & Cyberbullying

As part of a larger commitment to the anti-bullying efforts, CNN, sister network to Cartoon Network, which has to date covered numerous stories about the rise and growing concern over bullying in America, will also recognize October Bullying Prevention Month by presenting an Anderson Cooper 360° Town Hall event the first week in October.

“Bullying recently has been designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a national health crisis.” -- David Doss, senior executive producer for Anderson Cooper 360°

Award-winning journalist Anderson Cooper will welcome government and education leaders, parents groups and child behavioral experts from top universities and non-profit institutions to discuss the many issues and concerns surrounding bullying.

Cartoon Network’s initial steps include launching a new series of original PSAs that will premiere on Friday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m., introducing the pro-social effort and directing viewers to key online resources at CartoonNetwork.com.

Update: Lady Gaga Tells Little Monsters 'Bullying is for losers'

Update: Here's the link to the Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign resources!

Related: Ellen Degeneres 'United Against Bullying' Resources

Update: On March 10, 2011 the White House is hosting "Conference on Bullying Prevention" that will be streamed live on Facebook. The conference will address bullying--both online and offline.


Myth Busters: Facebook, Teens & Cyberbullying

Facebook handles 2m abuse reports through its site every week, and 80% of those are false. But of those cases that are genuine, by far the biggest issues are cyberbullying, addiction, oversharing and 'sexting' - when girls are bullied into sending photos of themselves to 'boyfriends'.

Balkam cites research by Ncmec, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US, which found that 1% of child victimisation cases involved the internet. "Those cases are shocking and disturbing and they make the nightly news, but therefore they seem a greater problem than they are."

The future of online safety is also about far more than just Facebook, which bears the brunt of the publicity because it is the most visible site.

via www.guardian.co.uk


Togetherville: Designing a Social Web Experience for Kids

Togetherville.logo What is it?

Togetherville is a social networking experience intended for your younger children (5-10 year olds). The new service is designed to provide a training ground where parents can teach their kids important lessons about online communication, community building and what it means to be a good digital citizen.

The Togetherville community experience piggy-backs on the Facebook platform and allows grownups to guide their kids through an age-appropriate social networking experience, kid friendly content, moderate connections and interactions all in an ad-free environment.

How does it Work?

In Togetherville, grownups act as the moderator for new contacts, assuming the responsibility for inviting family members/friends and other kids' to join their child's online neighborhood. The 6-to 10-year-olds are invited to engage with their real-world friends, play games, watch videos, and create art.

Is it safe?

Togetherville is intended for kids who are too young for Facebook and is fully compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Kids' are *NOT connected* to anyone without their parents approval, so parents don't need to worry about 'stranger danger.'

Unlike other child oriented social networks, kids' use their real names instead of an alias. This is important because it teaches them to be responsible for their actions within the community. Since their identity isn't a secret, the thinking is that this will reduce the chances that they will engage in cyberbullying or other no-no behaviors.

 

Togetherville "Allowance"

Allowance is a new site feature that helps teach kids financial literacy while providing parents with a way to reward good behavior, both online and off.

Parents or other approved adults (family members, coaches) can give a child Togetherville currency called "T-bills," which can be spent on virtual goods, games or gifts within each child's unique Togetherville neighborhood.

Once they have T-bills, parents and adults can give Allowance to children for whom they are administrators. Kids and adults can use T-bills for virtual goodies, gifts and games.

As with any feature in Togetherville, a parent or other adult with administrative rights has complete control over who can give their child funds. In addition, just like in the offline world, a parent can suspend or eliminate a child's Allowance at any time.

Developing Healthy Media Habits

A lot of people will say that kids' don't need to be online and that they should go outside and play.

Think of it this way: too much of anything is bad. Too many hours playing video games or watching cartoons--not healthy! Eating too much ice cream, Taco Bell or drinking too much soda are also not a good thing.

It doesn't really matter if it's chocolate milk, riding your bike in the dark, watching too much TV or being online. As adults, we need to be the ones who help children develop healthy habits.

Social by Design

Think of Togetherville as a social networking apprenticeship where parents act as a Facebook "expert" who mentor and help their children through the experience of participating in a social networking community.

The situated learning theory argues that learning and knowledge acquisition takes place only when situated in a social and authentic context.

Ultimately this process –known as legitimate peripheral participation—moves the newcomer deeper into a community of practice leading them closer to acquiring the knowledge and skills required to be an expert. In Togetherville, young kids' will form a community of practice (and safety net) consisting of their peers, site moderators, and several parent "experts."

Cognitive apprenticeship is an instructional design and learning theory wherein the instructor (or parent), through socialization, models the skill or task at hand for the child. Kids' may also receive guidance from and learn from their peers.

The role of the parent is to help novices (in this case, your kids') clear cognitive roadblocks (Facebook/social networking) by providing them with the resources needed to develop a better understanding of social media. This process is called scaffolding.

Ultimately the kids will become an expert who no longer needs the scaffolding provided by Togetherville and/or parental guidance. In turn, they will have a better understanding of potential roadblocks and are now equipped the skills to navigate the world of social media/networking sites like Facebook.

Putting it All Together

In the end, what's important here is to take a balanced position when it comes to kids and technology. As a parent or teacher, don't be afraid to jump into the technology and social media pool and get your feet wet.

Use this as an opportunity to spend time with your kids and learn more about how they are using technology, mobile phones and social media in their lives.

Most importantly, when it comes to kids and social networking, don't panic!


U Rock: Disney's Kid UGC Mashup Contest is Back!

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U Rock, the popular user-generated content (UGC) summer promotion sponsored by Disney, is back for its third summer!

The contest gives fans the opportunity to create their own music video mash-up set to songs from popular Disney artists and post their original videos on the U Rock site.

The most popular U Rock video finalists, voted on by fans, will win amazing prizes like the chance to meet the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. Disney U Rock 

You can get more information, including the scoop on all the cool prizes & the rules, over on the official U Rock page.

Unleash Your Kids' Creativity with Disney Create

Create is an entertainment portal on Disney.com, the No. 1 ranked community-family and parenting destination on the Web.

The Create portal features a set of creativity tools that offer an entirely new way to interact with Disney characters and stories.

For the first time, guests have access to rich Disney character art and graphics to design their own works of art then share them with other guests online.

Create builds on the vision created long ago by Walt Disney, “A focus on creativity and engaging the imagination of the guest.”

Since it’s launch, more than 1.2 million original pieces of user-generated kid content have been created within Disney.com/Create!

Apps

  • Create Apps allow children to design artwork, comic books, music videos, animated pets and more, all using Disney characters and graphics. 

Comic Creator

  • Craft a comic book using favorite Disney characters.  Guests lay out pages using fun and wacky graphics, text and images to create their own rich narrative.

Digital Painter

  • Paint like a master artist, right in your browser, using tools, textures, and fun pens.  Create a masterpiece that can be shared for everyone to see!
Animods
  • Illustrate an animated online pet that can be individually styled and customized.  Kids choose from a number of different animals, each with its own collection of pre-set animations, interactions, and accessories. 

Photo Mashup

  • Combine photos of favorite Disney stars with hip stickers and cool gear to create personalized images for use on a computer desktop, phone, inside a school locker, or any other fun application guests can dream up.

Music Slideshow

  • Compose a harmonious mix of images, text, and sound.  Guests create their own music videos using photos of Disney stars, their own text, and a choice of songs from artists such as Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers.

Group Wall

  • An innovative new community gallery called the “Group Wall” will launch on Disney.com Create.  The first Group Wall theme is a “Tribute to Mickey” and will build a dynamic mosaic portrait of Mickey Mouse with user-generated content. 

My Portfolio

  • Create an online art portfolio on Disney.com to share with friends, filling it with creations from all of the Create activities – digital paintings, comic-books, pets and more.

Houle: Your Kids Are Different and It's Okay!

20100319-david-houle-millennials-300x205.jpgFuturist David Houle has an interesting series of articles over on Oprah.com that explore the world of Millennials and the challenges of raising kids in the digital age.

The thing that I really like about Houle's column is that he takes a rational and, unlike so many other guru's, non-alarmist approach to the subject.

There are so many fear based stories out there about kids, digital technology and social media, so it's refreshing to see such a balanced approach on the subject.

The one area where I disagree slightly with Houle is his use of the term "digital natives." I'm sure from his perspective and based on his conversations with CEO's and other corporate types, that Millennials in the workplace, compared to their older colleagues, appear to be super digital, technology gifted whiz kids.

Coined by author Marc Prensky in 2001, the phrase has its usefulness in helping us adults grasp the major media shift we're experiencing and embrace young people's openness to it.

But two leading new-media thinkers – Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics and Henry Jenkins at the University of Southern California – both have concerns about the phrase becoming too definitive.

Sure kids can work an iPod or update their status on Facebook, but what about using technology in an authentic, useful context? But when it comes to using technology in a situated context to complete a task, navigating privacy settings and all around digital literacy, or using technology at school kids still come up a bit short

Over the last decade there has been lots of talk, in both the press and educational circles, about the technological prowess of digital natives. We've heard a lot about what's exciting in educational technology, but the reality is that teachers still see a lot of kids struggling to use technology.

In the end, what's important here, and I'm sure Mr. Houle would agree, is to take a balanced position when it comes to kids and technology. As a parent or teacher, don't be afraid to jump into the technology and social media pool and get your feet wet. Use this as an opportunity to spend time with your kids and  learn more about how they are using technology, mobile phones and social media in their lives.

Most importantly, don't panic! As a wise man once said, 'your kids are different...and it's okay!'

Image Credit: www.oprah.com


Study: Video Games May Sap Attention Span

Parents who believe that playing video games is less harmful to their kids' attention spans than watching TV may want to reconsider -- and unplug the Xbox. Video games can sap a child's attention just as much as the tube, a new study suggests.

Elementary school children who play video games more than two hours a day are 67 percent more likely than their peers who play less to have greater-than-average attention problems, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Playing video games and watching TV appear to have roughly the same link to attention problems, even though video games are considered a less passive activity, the researchers say.

"Video games aren't less likely than television to be related to attention problems," says the lead author of the study, Edward Swing, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology at Iowa State University, in Ames. "They were at least as strong as television at predicting attention problems."

However, the study doesn't prove that video games directly cause attention problems. It could be that kids who have short attention spans to begin with might be more likely to pick up a joystick than a book, for instance.

via www.cnn.com


Trend Watch: Teens Getting High On Nutmeg. Yes, Nutmeg.

Nutmeg Move over Smarties. There's a new "drug" in town. Apparently nutmeg, found in just about every kitchen in America--when used in the right doses--provides a marijuana-like buzz.

In a quest to document everything, teens have uploaded videos to YouTube to share their nutmeg exploits.

 

The teen nutmeg debauchery also caught the attention of LA-based KTLA reporter Lu Parker who filed this report on the latest (but not last) way that teens are getting high.