As families across the U.S. are wrapping up the weekday barbeques and planning ahead for packed lunches and school open houses, we’re turning our attention to what’s important to know about youth media right now. Here are three things to keep on your radars:
Molly of Denali
The newest show from PBS Kids follows a Native American girl (Canadians would call her a member of First Nation), who is 10 years old and lives in Alaska. She has a range of diverse friends, and stories feature natural elements of the Alaskan landscape, culture, and wildlife—including moose. At YouthBeat, our favorite episode is Cabbagezilla, which has uplifting messages of friendship, gardening, and a live-action postscript of kids learning about and embracing growing vegetables in the Alaskan climate.
Other episodes highlight her native culture, featuring language and traditions that are truly novel to the kids’ TV landscape. Here’s why we love this show so much—Generation Alpha (those born 2010 and later) live in a United States with no cultural majority of their peers. Most youth media have already embraced African American, Hispanic, and sometimes Asian characters—but everyone else still gets lumped into “other.” This program shines a bright light on one (fictional) girl’s experience and shows that “other” is in many ways “same as me.” Kudos to PBS Kids for inclusivity. Visit PBS Kids to check it out for yourself.
New Streaming Services
Last year the YouthBeat team wrote an infographic about the changing media landscape, which we followed up with a webinar. You can watch it by clicking here. Net net, youth’s behaviors and preferences toward “TV” content have changed radically in the last five years. And in the next six months, they’re about to see a whole new upheaval.
Six in ten of our youth panelists (61%) already have streaming services in their homes.* The most common services they use are Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.* Stay tuned, because all of these streaming services are poised to launch soon:
• Apple TV+
• WarnerMedia’s HBO Max
• NBC Universal
We’re very intrigued at what impact these new services will have on what is available in youth’s households, and what they’re consuming.
Finstagram vs. Rinstagram
Heads up, adults! As it turns out the Internet has a lot of fake content. What?!? We’ve long said that Generation Z (now ages 10-22 by our definition) grew up watching older, Millennial siblings stumble over posting personal content on public social media—and facing consequences of judgments from trolls or authority figures who could see what they were up to.
Now teens are not just retreating to more private platforms like Snapchat where everyone they “streak” with is a verifiable in-person friend. They’ve taken it a step further and are fully gaming the system. On the “Gram” (Instagram) in particular, it’s not unusual for teens to have one or more fake personas—known as their “Finstagrams,” for trolls to follow. When they stop deriving satisfaction from the interactions around their posts, they simply shut down the account and launch another one (or more).
They do keep an authentic one, though, their “real” or “Rinstagram,” for trusted followers. Read more about the differences from the Screenagers site. Sounds exhausting, huh? It’s the reality of what we call “Reputation Management” at YouthBeat—when young people have to curate their digital personas and be aware of the sliver of space between their true selves and their online selves. Kind of makes one want to go off-grid and hike in the woods.
Changes in the way youth consume media are accelerating and impacting what they want to take from their media experiences. Don’t take your eye off the ball—keep up with generational dynamics and what that means for how you reach young people. We guarantee that it will be different a year from now.
*Source: YouthBeat Total Year 2018