Never Mind the Rugrats

Posted on: Thursday 01 July 2010 7:27am

A ‘Buzzcocks’ style look at the the news of the past year and the issues ahead, setting the scene for the conference and exploring its theme with some key industry personalities.

Host: Barney Harwood, Presenter, CBBC


Bea Appleby, Editor Girl Talk, BBC Worldwide

Joe Godwin, Director, BBC Children’s

Tamara Littleton, CEO, eModeration

Debbie MacDonald, VP, Programming Director, Nickelodeon UK

Rob McMenemy, Senior VP, Egmont English Language & Central Europe

John Rice, Jam Media

Jeremy Salsby, Saltbeef TV

Gregory Watson, MD, Fun Kids

The second day started with a panel game, Never Mind the Rugrats, aimed at setting out the challenges of the future for producers by looking at what children really like. But first the big kids (ie the panel) were asked to recall their childhood favourites…Trumpton, Banana Splits, Hong Kong Phooey and an Irish glove puppet called Bosco were all fondly remembered.

Then it all got a bit trickier. Our panellists (armed with bicycle bells and hooters) had to guess the name of old shows, games and magazines from clues given by children.And judging by what they had to say, our old favourites just don’t seem to do it for the kids of today!

As well as making use of the range of channels that are available, it was clear that this generation is also getting content from user generated sites such as You Tube.In fact, as well as a source of entertainment, You Tube is also being used by children as a learning tool for a range of activity from learning maths to baking a cake. Some saw nothing wrong with this in principle, providing the videos are of good quality and most importantly, that they’re age appropriate.

The session highlighted concerns about children’s use of the internet, in particular social networking sites. Children as young as five chose Facebook as their favourite website this year, despite it being aimed at teenagers and adults. Tamara Littleton (eModeration) said that some parents are actually helping children get on social networking sites, despite the age restrictions – because all their friends are members. Jeremy Salsby (Saltbeef TV) added that as a parent himself, he’s uncertain about what he should do to protect his children online, without destroying their sense of curiosity. The panellists agreed it is everyone’s responsibility to help children use these tools appropriately and that a better level of media literacy for parents and educationalists is necessary to achieve this.

Behind the light-hearted tone, the message was serious. Children are interacting with media in new ways, ways that sometimes cause concern. Rob McMenemy (Egmont) said they don’t live in a bubble, it’s impossible to insulate them from the realities of the world.

It’s clear that one of the challenges of the new decade is to listen to the audience and to work out how best to help children engage with the media safely.

And perhaps our panellists could do with engaging themselves a bit more as well! They didn’t manage to guess too many of the theme tunes – beautifully sung for us by a class of Scottish school children – much to the dismay of the Kindle delegation in the audience!

Oh and despite some scoring confusion (maybe Barney needs to check out some of those You Tube maths lessons…) we can confirm that when the final hooter honked, Rob’s team had beaten Joe’s. Well done that man!

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