Mind the Gap – Meeting the Media Needs of 10-14’s

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2011 4:28pm

John Kent remembers what it’s like to be a teenager…

Introduced by Btisam Belola.

Speakers: Dr Barbie Clarke (Kids and Youth), David Squire (Desq)

Over the last few years Barbie and David have been working in an area that they think is under served by media providers.

While academically adolescence spans the age 10-25 (your brain isn’t fully developed until that age), it’s the young adolescence (ie 10-14) that face the biggest challenges because there’s so much going on in their lives: puberty… going to secondary school – which means losing friends and having to make new ones… the need for friends and peer influence is at its height…

A big part of this phase of a teenager’s life is working out they’re identity – and playing at who they want to be rather than being content with who they think they are. Just thinking about it makes me glad not be a teenager anymore!

Barbie pointed out that you can see this identity crisis in many aspects of a teenagers media consumption. Whether it’s Call of Duty or an 18 certificate film, they’ll tell you that they watch and play with many things that they’re not supposed to do. On Facebook – they’ll have hundreds of friends, and will be actively pushing forward and exaggerating features they like (prettiness, strength, influence), and hiding features they don’t. They may even have two profiles on Facebook – one their parents to see, and one that’s undercover.

David and Barbie’s treatise is that we should be taking this age group much more seriously. They fall in the gap between children’s channels and older viewing, and broadcasters should be thinking much more about content that’s targeted towards this groups needs. David suggested that themes that could be worth exploring include “gamification” of their lives, twisting the familiar (Eg Misfits), or the obviously surreal such as the Mighty Boosh.

As it happened, representatives from two broadcasters were in the room – Disney XD, and CBBC, and both took issue with some of their ideas. The Channels’ point that there’s a big difference between what early teens do and what early teens say… they might tell you their favourite show is Skins, but the audience figures suggest they still love Chucklevision (they just don’t want to admit).

So what do you think? Are 11-14’s being underserved by broadcasters? And what should we do to fill the gap? Tell us in the comments below

You can read the full paper at http://www.kidsandyouth.com/childrensmediaconf.php