As a marketing professional, I’m aware of how fast content is evolving to accommodate consumers with shorter attention spans and higher expectations. I’ve recently written about companies like Wibbitz that allow publishers like CBS, Hearst and USA Today to create videos in seconds through use of algorithms. To more effectively move consumers through content on websites and mobile applications, I’ve covered how firms like Appcues develop tutorials and in-app guides that are effective at leading consumers to desired results.
But the recent research that I’ve uncovered while writing about these topics has me thinking.
While these tools are successful, and even necessary, for marketers and brands hoping to engage their audiences and move them through a purchase path, we rarely consider the implications of our quickly-evolving content landscape on our kids. What does it mean for our kids that they can ask Alexa instead of Jeeves?
Here are a few ways our evolving content landscape is affecting our kids, and how we can help them navigate it responsibly.
Many of us have seen headlines comparing our attention spans to that of a goldfish. Thanks to technology, we can accommodate dwindling attention spans by developing faster and more intuitive processes, such as Appcues’ in-app prompts. Conveniences such as these are expected in our quickly evolving technological landscape, and companies that don’t evolve to meet our fast-paced lifestyle are being left in the dust.
However, the double-edged sword of optimizing these processes is that our expectations are never actually met, they only increase along with these technological improvements. While we want our kids to have every advancement possible, we also want them to be able work through complex processes--we don’t always have tutorials to guide us through important tasks.
Teaching our kids patience and persistence is increasingly important. From age-appropriate complex math problems, to puzzles and long-term goal planning, we need to engage our kids in ways that aren’t immediately positively reinforcing, and instead are rewarding over a long-term. What’s more, and what’s tougher to swallow, is recognizing and overcoming our own limitations in this area and leading by example.
The result of social media competing as a news source, and algorithms that facilitate video production in seconds, is a fast-paced news cycle. Often, what we digest as “news” is not well-researched. Teaching our kids to dive deeper into news stories that are crafted by reputable journalists is becoming increasingly essential.
Furthermore, educating them that online content is delivered to them based on algorithms that understand their interests, creating a “filter bubble,” is imperative for teaching them to seek out and understand perspectives that differ from their own.
Addiction to technology has gained attention of late for the negative impact it’s having on children and parents, alike. The positive reinforcement of a “like” leads social media users to crave more engagement, but the relationships we build through our computer screens are more hollow than those we have in real life.
While some in the tech industry are doing things to address tech addiction with our children, the expectation that companies that we know and love will lead in curbing the amount of time our kids spend looking at a devices is unrealistic. It’s up to us to have the conversation, and to set limits and boundaries that our kids will certainly break--but at least they’ll know are there.
The Key for Parents? Stay Informed
The biggest key as a parent is embracing technology and never falling behind. It’s why I stay up on the latest tools, gadgets, content creators and platforms. I may not be interested in all of it--.you won’t find me on musical.ly--but at least I’ll be able to understand its benefits and popularity instead of just making the blanket statement: “kids these days.”
We are a generation that grew up on “the more you know” PSAs, and it’s in our own interest to know more, understand more and talk more about technology with our kids.