It’s common knowledge that the youth of today are far more technologically minded then we used to be. For one, they don’t need to queue at school for 15 minutes of grace on an outdated dial-up Gateway computer, and two; they’re dazzled with gadgets that connect them to the web and are heavily involved in social networking. There’s no denying that in ten years time our knowledge will becomes outdated, if not obsolete, with fresh faced twenty something’s running rings round us with intuitive understanding of the latest developments in touch and 3D technology.
It seems manufacturers agree with this idea, as they’ve decided to target kids early. This year has seen the rise of the e-reader, the actualization of 3DTV and Android OS taking off, but it’s also seen a wide range of tech products created which TARGET TWEENS. But what’s so weird about this strategy is that the products they’re using to tempt children into tech are actually really good and well thought out. They’re not just slapping a can of pink/blue paint on a toy, adding in batteries and expecting impressionable youths to be wowed, we’re talking his spec Disney themed netbooks and headphones created to fit the miniature proportions of children’s ears.
Sure, the Disney Asus netbook has parental control options, such as creating approved sites and only allowing emails from contacts, but you can do that on any computer. The design is clearly to lure in the young people, and by that I mean 7-12 year olds, as no 13-year-old girl would be seen dead brandishing a Disney lappie, unless it was in a kitsch way. The laptop isn’t cheap either, as it’s £280, but for that you get 160GB storage, multiple USB ports and the portability of the Eee PC- which is pretty much child sized after all.
Griffin have also got in on the act with their myPhones, large over the ear headphones, which have a volume cap of 85 decibels to protect delicate young ears. They also let you customize the earbud shell with your own design, which is another trick to attract the youth market.
I reckon the brands are being quite savvy with this targeted marketing, looking to build a following whilst the kids are young, so they’ll have a loyal client base when they’re older. It’s slightly scary to fully register quite how advanced the tweens are becoming, but if you pay attention to the media, you can see it’s inevitable. Teen hit show Gossip Girl is based around gossip left on a website, collated by updates sent to mobiles, every teen starlet these days brandishes an iPhone and Mac, and all of the sudden geekiness is somehow ‘cool’. True, parent trying to add you on Facebook will never be appropriate, but the idea of products tailored towards young peoples needs strikes a chord. At 12 you don’t need business software or Excel spreadsheets, what you want is intuitive devices that connect you to your friends, let you watch video and go shopping. A side bonus is that they also allow you to check film times or bus schedules.
OK, the web is open for misuse, and kids can abuse their products, but this has always been the case. Up till now products aimed specifically at this market were clunky and underwhelming, such as the Intel Classmate, a perfectly functional ‘kidproof’ laptop, but with none of the sparkle or desirability of the Asus Disney Eee PC.
In the run up to Christmas I’m sure we’ll see more of well thought out functional products that tweens will love, – for instance Samsung’s Genio mobile, a touch screen beauty that’s on PAYG, and I’m pretty sure that the majority of people on PAYG are under 18.
The interesting thing about all these products, is that whilst they’re designed to attract the younger crowd who may not want all the functions, the people with the purse strings are Mum and Dad, and they’re buying into this too. Do they see a pastel laptop as child appropriate, or perhaps they’re happy that something like this can make their children more interested in technology? Or maybe they’re also clued up and are happy they’re investing in quality products.
I’m not sure of the answer, but I am sure that proliferation of tween targeted tech is on the up, which implies the army of confident tech-savvy kids is closer than we think.