CCIQ Weekly Review: Growing up Wired

Gina Scanlon

It goes without saying that the world is changing, and youth culture is shifting even faster than the earth’s orbit. Toddlers are now given cell phones, children who barely know their ABC’s have their own laptops and can probably find their way around an iPad before you can. Typing is no longer being taught in grade school because kids are learning how to type before they can actually put a pen to paper.

So what does this mean for those who are marketing technology to these demographics?

Ronn Torossian, President & CEO of 5W Public Relations, will be giving a speech at Call Center IQ’s Kid, Youth & Parent Power event entitled, ‘Breaking Through the Clutter to Drive Sales’ on Thursday, April 28thin Orlando, Florida. He says,

"With the rise of tablet devices such as the iPad and Galaxy, the shift in customer communications for kids will be the ways that marketers are able to reach specific niches. For example, a boy 8-12 who is interested in Nascar can immediately download a racing app and marketers who want to reach that demo will be able to market to that specific consumer rather than flooding all media using a mass market appeal approach which has been the norm in the past."

Companies are learning quickly that they need to target these markets with hip, impressive product lines in order to compete with not only parents, but their tech savvy kids.

Cell Phones

Cell phones for children now have tracking device capabilities so that parents can see where they are at all times. Companies such as Firefly and TicTalk sell phones and/or calling plans aimed at the youth market. The options on these phones are limited and some don’t even have usable buttons, but a list of pre-set numbers that can be dialed with one touch. Quality of these phones is questionable, however, and reviews are mixed, as well as the pricing, which can sometimes be just as expensive as an adult phone.

These models rarely work for tweens more concerned with social status and at least masquerading adult like traits with their gadgets. Kajeet offers calling plans with adult handsets but are especially designed for children.


Not only kids in the U.S. are starting out on laptops at a young age. Non-profit operations like the One Laptop Per Child project is helping children in third world countries have access to new technologies. This project in particular is creating durable laptops at a low price of around $100 each so that school children in disadvantaged parts of the world can hope to compete.

The program has spawned some interesting inventions, such as the pedal-powered OLPC computer for children in countries like Afghanistan who don’t have access to reliable electricity. Fuse Project is also designing new versions of the tablet computer, and is partnering with OLPC to help keep their laptop models current.


Jaymi Heimbuch of planetgreen reports that Fuse Project has created an all-plastic screen that is semi-flexible to make it more durable around hard-wearing kids.

"The display is designed to work in both transmissive and reflective modes, which means it is easily viewable indoors and outdoors, making it a versatile tool for learning in the classroom or out on field trips. It can also switch from being set up like a laptop or like a book. And it has multi-touch capabilities so that multiple children can work and play on one device," Heimbuch writes.

So the challenge ahead for marketers will truly be a global one, as children begin to communicate more cross-culturally with one another, and less developed countries begin creating their own technology.

Social Networking and Online Gaming

Kids of all ages are also being trained at a young age on how to use social networking sites like myYearbook, which is the #1 site for teens, according to comScore. myYearbook just launched "myYearbook Live," a new gaming platform that combines 3rd-party multi-player games with live video chat. This platform also matches users of the site by age, gender and location so they can play games with people they choose to interact with.

Geoff Cook, myYearbook’s CEO, will be holding a workshop on April 26thon the ‘Future of Social Networks and Synchronous Games’ at the Kid, Youth & Parent Power event.

Join us April 26-28 for the Kid, Youth & Parent Power Event in Orlando to learn more about marketing these products to the youth culture and hear from experts like Ronn, Geoff and many more!