How do children communicate? That was a topic of discussion this week, as experts on adolescent communication gave presentations and answered audience questions about social media use for youngsters. Here are some of the highlights:
- Children are spending more time indoors today, which increases their likelihood to use social networking sites and play video games. However, when asked what do they like to do, kids say it’s playing with their siblings and going for walks.
- A study found that 50% of parents of 9-16 year olds absolutely forbid social networking sites like Facebook. What’s recommended is engaging parents as enablers, not just policemen. Teaching them what to expect, and as they get older, induce a level of respect. Monitoring software was being heavily promoted; it has to be a parent-child conversation.
- There was a general consensus that children under age 13 shouldn’t be on Facebook. There are far many other things for them to do. And Facebook isn’t set up to protect them at that age.
- Children want to feel that there are other people around. They feel safer knowing people are there, but not necessarily engaging with them, whether online or in person.
- Marketers have learned capture the hearts and minds of a six year old. If you persuade someone to love you at six, you’ll have them for a lifetime. Not only that, but 90% of a household budget is decided based on children, so this tactic targets adult consumers as well. If a brand can engage children, it can only help, for parents love a brand their child loves.
- Children have such an amazing ability to create their world in things that obviously aren’t designed for them, which is why they enjoy social networking sites.
- Although eager to participate, children aren’t as attached to social media accounts as older users are. They will forget logins and open anew account, not worrying about legacy data and content associated with old accounts.
- Children are very supportive of each other in many digital spaces and will help or guide others
And one final thought on children and communication: Seek to inspire them, rather than give them something to do. If they have an interest, help guide them.
Delesia Watson is in her first year of graduate school at New York University, studying Public Relations and Corporate Communication. Delesia believes social media has largely impacted the way people all over the world communicate, and when used properly, can contribute to building sustaining relationships and a global society. Delesia loves a good read, pageantry, traveling and bargain shopping. You can catch her online at @deleesh and on her blog.