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OPINION Clive Crouch

The Media Whisperer T

It’s all about children: Clive looks at the changes technology has made to childrens' lives

he question of how much pocket-money children receive has long been a subject of ongoing research. Over many years Walls (the Unilever Ice

Cream Company) produced The Walls Pocket Money Monitor, a very useful piece of data. Rowntree Confectionery (now Nestle) also produced a similar piece of research. Their

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have always made, to devices and platforms such as Apple iOS, Android and Kindle. Children are digitally savvy and the challenge is to adapt content to the different places that children are likely to use. This content has to stretch and provide an ever-expanding entertainment offering under the umbrella of creating a media property. These properties should provide both education and entertainment menus.

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respective findings were reassuringly similar. In the absence of both, I discovered that The Halifax have taken on the mantle and produce The Halifax Annual Pocket Money Survey, a very worthy piece of research. Tracking back on the amount of pocket-money children receive; let us reverse back to 2010 to set the scene.

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2010 marked a seven year low for children’s pocket-money (bad news kids!) but encouragingly the position improved in 2011, where the survey showed that children were given an average of £6.25 a week by their parents. To date in 2012, children’s pocket- money has been squeezed and has fallen back by 3% to an average of £5.98 per week.

There are a couple of anomalies within these topline figures reflected by geography and gender. Children in London fared better as their pocket-money fell by 4%; but from an already higher base above the average. In the case of gender, boys continue to be given more pocket-money than girls, with the gap widening this year by 37p per week. That may not seem like much, but across a year it amounts to £19.24pa less for girls!

Fortunately in adulthood, Employment Law does not allow such discrimination. Perhaps parents should start thinking in terms of equality to set an example to their children ahead of the workplace. In today’s digital world children also need to ask parents for entertainment payments/subscriptions to enable game play across a plethora of Virtual Worlds and Apps. This would probably be over and above the pocket- money cash.

Across the month of October, Mip Junior and Brand Licensing Europe presented the very best of creative opportunities to reach an audience of children by many different means of communication. The kids' market today starts with toddlers playing on touch-screens, whilst tweens stream video on smart phones often whilst watching their favourite shows. The demands on producers and licence holders to develop and extend their content and rights, is not just about translating the same type of content they

of TV today than any preceding generation. Add to that the aforementioned development into digital education and entertainment means that not everything can possibly work and be successful with the same level of engagement. Lets just take a moment to look at some stats;:

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The blunderbuss approach to reach kids by saturating TV has changed; we now need the precision of a sniper’s rifle to find them, and then entertain them.

I came away from Mip with some reservations about the ability of “toddlers” to use a tablet. IP owners of pre-school content distributed across various platforms and devices were proud to present tablet technology that allowed young children to “spin a tablet” which then changed the story, or change the screen to game play; as they turned the device. This demo extended into a theory that the child could play this tablet in bed prior to lights out and sleeptime.

I wondered if this theory would replace reading and storytelling to those “toddlers” by mum and dad at bedtime. Reading is a fundamental part in the process of education and learning. The values of spinning a tablet can hardly compensate for a story well told or well read. I do not doubt that a tablet will become a primary tool in the teaching process in the very near

One third of all children are online by the age of seven, and 97% by the age of 13!

One third of all children are online by the age of seven, and 97% by the age of 13!

■ 16% of 3 – 6-year-olds use a social network. ■ 28% of 7 – 10-year-olds , 68% of 10 – 13-year- old and

■ 96 % of 14 – 16-year-olds are on Facebook (Source Dr Barbie Clarke Mip Junior Oct 2012 )

The net effect of the explosion in digital technology makes it very hard for parents to control viewing and usage.

future. However, whilst children do learn to read as part of the curriculum, the pleasures and influence of stories being read, or told, early in those early learning years from a book can influence a child’s attitude towards reading independently through to adulthood. The word “publishing” in Cannes often went straight into an “e-book” discussion. We should take care to remember the printed word as a route to “literature” and spare a thought for the benefits and pleasures of, dare I say it, creating the desire to visit a library to read even more, as opposed to spinning a tablet.

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