Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, marketing, mobile, MySpace, Nick, online advertising, online community, television, trends, tween, virtual worlds, web business, Webkinz, z friends

Proactive online content for kids

Those of us who understand the positive aspects of online play need to help shape the climate online in the next couple years. Gone are the days of bragging about how your child knows so much more about technology/computers/internet than you do. More and more of our lives are being spent online. Let’s treat that sea change with a bit more respect than simple awe/wonder.

If we don’t want EVERY brand space online to be blatant consumerism with no message or goal, we have to be proactive about preventing that from happening. We must work toward not just calling out the bad sites, but creating and commending the good sites. And not just ones that give lip-service to more holistic goals – ones that actually step up and do it.

I ducked out of the Kids and Teens talk at the Virtual Worlds conference last week in order to see a young girl doll brand case study. Oy vey, was that a hard one to sit through. The developer giving the talk continually talked sarcastically about the girly brand that he developed, which showed me that he didn’t respect the audience and community the site was trying to develop. How can you create a great community if you don’t care about them?

Through his talk, he talked a couple times about the core values of “Empowerment” etc that the site’s founders wanted to convey in the virtual world. But almost in the same breath, he would reiterate multiple times that the only purpose for the site was to “sell more dolls.” Makes you wonder if the brand managers of those dolls know and care how their brand is being conveyed to conference audiences and their online community.

If “to sell more dolls” is truly the reason that the parent company wanted to launch this world, fine. They certainly are not alone. But that doesn’t mean all the other sites that will be developed in this category have to be like that.

Sesame Street’s Panwapa world is a cool approach to get into a space that is bound to be crowded in the next 2 years – preschool to early readers, 4-7 year olds. Kudos to them for being there before anyone else with a solid idea for a world (and not just the mindless wandering and silly games that make up almost every world in this space).

Whether we like it or not, a child is assimilated into the tech space earlier and earlier as the years go by. To pretend that this isn’t happening or block the kids from sites on a micro level is not the way to improve the situation. It’s the ostrich effect and doesn’t improve anything for anyone, especially the kids.

People who grew up with technology are now having kids. These younger generation parents have less or no aversion to introducing their kids to the online/tech coolness that they have grown up with. As producers of content (be it for a marketing purpose or pure creative), we have to develop for the parents AND the kids. These younger parents will still want the educational aspects that the past decade of attentive parents wanted, but the younger parents understand all of this on another level. Many of them understand that you can have fun, build relationships, and develop as a human online. They also understand the importance of design, navigation and user interface in your online experience. AND they will, directly or indirectly, teach these concepts to their kids.

Hopefully the content will start to catch up with paradigm shift that is happening world-wide as I type. Is your content up to the task?

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I am a data & results driven Digital Media Influencer with over 15 years of experience in engagement, family marketing, scaling infrastructure and audience culture across a product’s lifetime from pre-launch to millions of users. Strategic Vision & Business Development: • Articulated corporate integrated digital marketing strategies for 10 children’s entertainment properties across multiple digital channels • Authored a comprehensive business plan for scalable online community infrastructure for internal and external partners and successfully participated in a thorough VC due diligence process • Increased sales revenue by 20% while managing 6 million dollars of annual revenue in existing business services. Production & Project Management: • Developed multiple 2D & 3D multi-player virtual worlds, online games & apps based on repurposed/original assets • Produced 12 animated 2-minute shorts for broadcast on television & developed animation production department workflows • Launched multiple major website redesigns to include more fan interaction • Led workflow & process optimization teams to improve operational effectiveness/productivity. Audience Engagement & Research: • Developed domestic and international audience research programs both on & offline for both parent and children audiences • Grew multiple audiences from pre-launch to tens of millions by using organic, as well as established marketing tactics. Team Management & Relationship Building: • Designed team management & organizational structures for multiple Web Content and Web Marketing departments including international remote teams of staff in North & South America, Europe and Asia. • Managed teams in multiple disciplines, including customer service, social media engagement, production, moderation, marketing, design, tech and content development. • Extensive client, vendor and partner management experience in television, licensing, digital, e-commerce & customer service industries

9 thoughts on “Proactive online content for kids

  1. Joi, brilliant post! May I snag it or reprint for the comment section of our Panwapa post on Shaping Youth? It cuts to the core of so much I’ve been wanting to say. As your pal Izzy would say, “you rock!” (I’m too old to pull that off…heehe) You’re in my Google reader now, I’m trackin’ ya, and lookin’ for more erudite commentary like this that cuts through the clutter and leaves the PR hype as tumbleweeds. Well done, girl! 🙂 Pleasure to (virtually) handshake…Cheers, Amy

  2. Oh, joi! I thought– when i first saw your blog topic title in my netvibes (which will have a proper backyard brawl with your google reader, hahahaha)… i thought: “They’re peddling proactive to kids now? sheesh!” And I envisioned BOTH Jessica Simpson & Miss Piggy (who are well acquainted after co-peddling pizza together, and of course, Ms. Simpson is famous for her proactive support) pimpin’ out the proactive to kids online.

    Thankfully, I jumped to silly conclusions and read through your great post. This whole Ty thing really irks me. REALLY IRKS ME. I’m going to go buy a Ty Doll this weekend and do some investigations through play.

    LET’S PODCAST IT UP, YO!

  3. Oh, joi! I thought– when i first saw your blog topic title in my netvibes (which will have a proper backyard brawl with your google reader, hahahaha)… i thought: “They’re peddling proactive to kids now? sheesh!” And I envisioned BOTH Jessica Simpson & Miss Piggy (who are well acquainted after co-peddling pizza together, and of course, Ms. Simpson is famous for her proactive support) pimpin’ out the proactive to kids online.

    Thankfully, I jumped to silly conclusions and read through your great post. This whole Ty thing really irks me. REALLY IRKS ME. I’m going to go buy a Ty Doll this weekend and do some investigations through play.

    LET’S PODCAST IT UP, YO!

  4. I completely agree that online/offline toys should be more about “selling product.” I work with Ty Inc., and I hope the new line of dolls, called TyGirlz (www.tygirlz.com), provides safety, education, and most importantly – a fun time! Please see for yourself and tell us what you think can be done to make this a better experience for everyone!

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