Kids in Hall of Mirrors
We all know that most young kids don't watch FTA TV any more. But it still comes as a bit of a shock when you talk to 11 year olds about what they do watch. It's a hall of mirrors in there. ~~
Moral Panic for the 21st Century?
The YouTube revolution is a wonderfull thing - gone are the gatekeepers, everyone's a creator and so on. YouTube, Facebook and a raft of other social video tools allow kids to talk in video to each other, as equals, without overgrown kids on network TV (aka network programmers) trying to second-guess them. But there's a downside.
In the pre-YouTube era, we grew up on a diet of FTA spiced up by the occasional VHS or DVD offering. TV viewing was a group experience - occasionally that meant kids were forced to watch something a bit more adult - like a history or nature doco or maybe even a science, religion or philosophy program. If they wanted TV, they had to tough it out in the lounge.
By osmosis, they absorbed more "considered" content and maybe had their interest piqued in something out of their usual fare of Here's Humphrey or Shirl's Neighbourhood (shudder).
Post YouTube, they control the platform, and they choose to watch stuff that is made for them (purportedly) by kids their own age. Subscribing to channels locks them in and the YouTube recommendation engine is going to serve up more of the same. So now their diet is uniformly age-specific. All cupcake, no steak.
There is higher, considered content around. Look at The School of Life, Alain de Boton's brilliant attempt to get over really complicated life concepts in 3 minutes.But how will young kids come across it?
Is there space in kid's online content for an algorithm that stretches their imaginations a little? To recreate that small spark of randomness, so that an eleven year old might get offered an episode of The School of Life amongst their stream of same-age vloggers?
Is there a space for just a little social engineering by a smart developer that would allow parents to inject something a little more substantial into their kid's YouTube fare?