Report – What Next for Kids?

Posted on: Wednesday 06 July 2022 8:24pm by Simon Bor

Takeaways

  • Imagine being a child in the 21st century, having seen and experienced so many difficult situations.
  • Don’t turn 10-year-olds into 13-year-olds.
  • We need to help children express their innate kindness and empower them to make a difference.

Emma Scott (Chair, World Book Day) introduced the session’s Changemaker, Inspiring Vanessa, an award-winning, 15-year-old motivational speaker, talkshow host and actor.

‘We are going back in time with history continuing to repeat itself,’ said Inspiring Vanessa, who asked the audience to imagine being a child in the 21st century, reminding us what today’s children have witnessed in their short lives. She asked content creators to ‘reflect and detect’, to ensure inclusion was not just on screen but in the boardroom, and to ‘repeatedly open up for discussion’ (discussion being the start of collaboration). She remarked that it was worrying that something as important as Black Lives Matter had a massive media coverage in 2020 but that attention fizzed out too soon.

Emma went on to introduce the panel and asked for their thoughts on the kids’ media landscape.

‘My job is to entertain, inspire and delight,’ said Lucy. She believes she has to look after the interest of several communities, the children, the parents and the creative teams and producers. ‘If we are making a show for seven-year-olds, we need to speak to seven-year-olds. We need to speak to their parents.’ Lucy noted how kids’ lives have changed in the past two years, and there are kids going into education who are not school ready. Lucy and her team are not educators, but throughout the pandemic, they worked closely with the BBC to bring programming onto the Sky platform and created programming that reflected the new world.

Jill thought that parents had a tough time keeping up with the pace of change, starting the pandemic on iPads and ending up within the Metaverse. Common Sense Media helps parents find programmes for their children, with a research-based approach to media reviews. Emma asked her what the impact had been in the US. ‘The only good thing about the pandemic was that our traffic went through the roof,’ said Jill. She said that families were looking for things that they could watch together. Nostalgia was key for involving the parents, with ’80s and ’90s films and old series/remakes being popular. She said: ‘Global is here. There’s a much wider swap of content.’

Ger wanted to distinguish between schooling and education (education being most important). He worried that, in Sheffield, 37% of children did not have adequate internet access at the beginning of the pandemic and suggested a windfall tax on internet providers could help level the playing field. He spoke of his research findings showing that stereotypes in children were set as early as four years old, and there was little change in attitude between the ages of 4 and 14. Ger was keen that content should be more localised. He also believed that today’s children were struggling with the concept of truth. ‘We don’t know our kids,’ he said. ‘We judge on how well they attend school and how well they do in exams.’

Anna agreed that the past two years had been difficult for children, saying that they (and we) have been fearful. However, she thought that children were natural problem solvers, naturally generous and kind. Not every child can be a Greta Thunberg, but that we can help them to be good in small ways, such as donating their toys or raising money for Ukraine.  ‘The Week Junior’ explains world events, inspires children and empowers them to make a difference. Anna thought that exposing kids to good adult role models is so important at this time.

Emma concluded the conversation by asking how can we bring hope?

  • Lucy: Create shows that add to children’s lives.
  • Anna: Remember that children are curious.
  • Ger: Trust children.
  • Jill: Don’t turn 10-year-olds into 13-year-olds.

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Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor

Writer

Simon studied Animation at Farnham, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is now at Bath Spa University studying ‘Writing for Young People’. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid-1980s. As a writer, Simon has… Read more