So here’s the situation. I have an 8-year-old step son. He has an Xbox, a Nintendo DS, a PSP, all in his room and accessible anytime provided he’s in good standing with us, the parents. Yet, he doesn’t play them. When asked why I get a series of excuses/ responses but I think the real reason is he’s already used to the experience he gets while playing his games with others online.
So I ask the question, are our children entitled to be online, all the time? My generation grew up with the Internet. We dabbled with it when it was just a fledgling service, a bunch of bulletin boards. Now it’s an all-encompassing thing that’s more like the air we breathe than it is cable TV. Take cell phones for example, we know them as a unique device that lets us have a phone or even a computer anywhere. Our children only know cell phones as phones!
Then with that mindset why are we so opposed to giving them cell phones? Is there an inherent danger in providing a child with a way to communicate? The biggest threat really is to your phone bill.
With smart phones on the rise is the average age of cell phone users falling? You bet it is! The Average age of a person when they get their first cell phone is now age 8. They’re going to have the Internet before you ever even had an inkling of how to use a computer. It’s going to be on their cell phones, their video games and eventually their TV shows. It makes me wonder how the parents felt for their children when the bicycle first came out, was it fraught with danger and ludicrous to consider giving one to your young naive child?
But isn’t it dangerous?! There are now and will always be things we don’t want our kids to see. On the Internet there are things we question ourselves why we ever saw them at all to begin with! So is it dangerous? No. Is it something we need to monitor and put safe guards in place on as parents? Yes.
As marketers we have a unique responsibility to these kids. Not to force a brand on them but to continue to build communities so we don’t create a new generation who hates advertisements and who feels like the whole point of marketing is to interrupt their lives.