This is the Hook Kids Newsletter – a round-up of the most interesting thoughts, insights, and findings about young people compiled by the Hook team each month. You can also get this newsletter delivered straight to your inbox each month – sign up for free by following this link.
It’s a different world now since when we last caught up – isn’t it?
The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging for many people, but particularly kids. There are young people across the country who are missing out on seeing family members, kick-abouts with friends in the park, or just getting the education they need to succeed.
But, for this newsletter, we thought we might focus on the positives for a hot minute.
Here’s one: how many young, future e-sports champions have really refined their art in this lockdown? That must be an Orange-Justice-tinted silver lining!
Another positive can be seen in the brands who have really stood out in this period. A close look at some of the things that brands are doing right now reveals powerful lessons in agility, responsiveness, and necessity.
Whether this is the ‘new normal’ or not is still TBD – but, regardless, these brands have managed to connect with their young audiences in engaging, helpful, and supportive ways.
And we think that’s something worth talking about here…
BBC Bitesize – Creating Daily Lessons for 5-14 year olds
It’s unsurprising that the BBC has been the most noticed brand by UK kids (and parents) throughout Covid: at a Masterbrand level, the brand has played a huge role in engaging audiences across the country and delivering vital information about the pandemic.
Particularly impressive, however, is the vast amount of work that has gone into producing BBC Bitesize’s Daily Lessons: a series of 20-minute learning sessions (supplemented by digital content) produced by the Beeb’s flagship education product, aimed at kids aged 5-14.
This tailored learning package – “the biggest education effort the BBC has ever undertaken”, according to DG Tony Hall – aims to minimise disruption and create a routine for school-children throughout this unpredictable period.
On the launch of its Daily Lessons on the 20th of April, Bitesize attracted a record-breaking 3 million visitors to its site (the previous record was 1.3 million on the last day of school closures in March).
Beyond its impact on kids education, it also feels like this launch was a hugely important move for the Bitesize brand.
Historical Google Trends data suggests an approximate parity in interest between Bitesize and educational resource provider Twinkl in terms of searches, and in the early days of the virus it was the commercial platform that seemed to have the edge with users – attracting double the ‘interest’ in the w/c March 15-21, the week before schools shut down.
As the data indicates, that all changed with the launch of daily lessons on the 20th – the BBC learning platform became THE source of educational content for kids (in terms of searches). And that kind of association will – hopefully for the PSB – hang around in the long-term in parents’ and teachers’ minds…
Kids Podcasts, Voice, & Audio Books
These audio products are getting kids across the country excited – now more than ever. Before lockdown began, we spoke with kids around the UK to see why these products appealed to them. You can read our free report here!
Hasbro – A space to encourage mindfulness for parents & kids
As Bitesize has focused on providing education for locked-down kids, Hasbro has been more focused on helping parents create a more engaging play experience.
In response to an increased desire (across the kids media landscape) for materials to keep home-bound kids entertained, Hasbro created the #BringHometheFun campaign: a digital catalogue of “family-focused resources and fun ways to connect at home”. Here, parents and kids can watch videos about Trolls: World Tour or find out how to build a snowboarding penguin out of Play-Doh.
You’re right: it is a blatant attempt to push Hasbro toys into kids’ homes. But it’s also a welcome relief for parents looking to keep their children happy and entertained.
Most interesting for us, perhaps, is the page’s tie-in with another Hasbro campaign: Be Fearless, Be Kind.
Here, parents and kids can learn Mindfulness techniques to help them deal with stressful situations, as well as get ideas for shared activities with their children that can build empathy with others (it’s a US focus, primarily – but still applicable in many regards to UK children’s lives).
Pokémon Go – Staying Indoors to Catch ‘Em All
The pre-Covid Pokémon Go engagement model does not feel particularly pandemic-appropriate.
It’s an AR mobile game that encourages its users to walk around their cities to uncover new areas, and congregate at gyms to participate in ‘raids’ on powerful creatures. How could an app, whose engagement model has relied on movement, possibly survive when all of its players were locked-down?
In response to what could have been a crippling market, Niantic – the game-maker – made changes to ensure that the game was still playable from home: increasing Pokémon spawn rates, decreasing ‘hatch’ distances for eggs, allowing players to digitally organise tournaments without physically scanning QR codes, and removing walking limits on the game’s PvP feature (you can see all of the changes here, if you’re interested).
While it may not be fair to say that the game has ‘exploded’ under these changes, the app has certainly managed to hold its revenue relatively stable (-19.61% in 1Q20 vs Q4 – a normal decline dictated by seasonality, as demonstrated by a similar decline in 1Q19): a noteworthy achievement in this unique time. Much of this stability is attributed to Niantic’s rapid changes early in the pandemic.
Using podcasts to teach kids science
“I feel that now, more than ever, is a critical time to be teaching kids about the benefits of science and fact” – we chatted with the creator of Tumble Science podcast about the best ways to communicate science to young people…
Facebook – Communicating ‘caring’ in an emoji
For our last bit of news, it seems Facebook is launching a new emoji for the Covid age: the ‘care’ emoji.
Instead of being flippant, we could make the argument that this is an important addition for young users of the platform, as emojis are a powerful form of expression for less-than-verbose teens and preteens (and for children in general, particularly in the early years when it comes to language acquisition).
For content creators peeking at app store/podcast reviews, they will also quickly recognise the importance of emojis when it comes to young peoples’ communication.
Or this could be just another tool that the Zuck – RIP – is giving parents to publicly embarrass their teenagers… you decide.
And that’s it for this month! If you want to discuss anything in this newsletter, or you’d like to arrange a (virtual, zoom-based) coffee and a chat, then please get in touch.