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When it comes to youth, it’s safe to assume that while much has changed, much has also stayed the same. And that’s certainly the case for today’s preschoolers. But among the many things that have remained the same about this stage of life, it’s hard to deny that today’s preschoolers are different than any group that came before. While it’s important to understand what’s timeless about these tots, it’s equally important to refresh our perspective on what life means for these little ones right now.

As we prepare to launch YouthBeat Jr., a comprehensive syndicated study of children ages 2-5, we thought we would share some insights from our webinar, Putting the Preschool Market in Perspective, which we broadcast earlier this year. Here are five reasons we think it’s worth re-thinking our assumptions and perceptions about preschoolers right now:

  1. Preschoolers are taken more seriously than ever. For a long time, educators have considered the preschool years a critical period for learning. The parents of 2-5 year olds have also bought- in. They have high expectations for themselves, their children, and your brand/product/program.
  2. Preschoolers are no longer preparing for the social world – they live in it. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics, 69% of 4 year olds and 68% of 5 year olds were in center-based school/daycare programs. Add to that the many young children who regularly participate in scheduled and highly managed play dates and play groups, and it’s clear that this group is social, and is looking for social scaffolding earlier than ever before.
  3. Preschoolers are more tech-savvy than ever. We can thank touchscreen technology for turning a trend that was already well-entrenched past the tipping point. Many preschool parents report that they worry that their child will be behind academically and socially if they’re not already engaged in online game-play. And even parents who bemoan their child’s excessive screen time tend to tell researchers that they’re just a bit proud at how nimbly their precocious preschooler navigates the iPhone.
  4. Preschoolers are demographically different than ever before.According to a 2011 U.S. Census report, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the U.S. However, the demographic distinctiveness of this cohort of preschoolers doesn’t stop with diversity. This is also a generation of preschoolers whose parents are older than in the past, who are more likely to grow up with fewer siblings, and who have more moms who work and more dads that stay at home.
  5. Preschoolers are more catered to than ever. Preschoolers and their parents are hardly happy to be treated like big babies or “kids” to come. They don’t want products that are just right-sized, but that truly fit their unique needs. This generation no longer needs to settle for kids radio – they can tune into bands whose sole purpose is to serenade them.

To download a the extended white paper version of this blog, click here. And to find out more about YouthBeat Jr., contact Amy Henry at amyh@crresearch.com or 312/828.9200.