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VerdanaKids today 6665,6665,6665April 30, 2004 Verdana VerdanaAbout 15 years ago, we began to hear about children who helped their parents with new technologies. They were the ones who knew how to program the VCR, get onto the Internet, and troubleshoot the computer. It was a cliché, but a meaningful one that marked two shifts in the way technology was being integrated into our lives. The first is that children were getting their hands on new technologies. Before, they had intermediaries standing between them and a new device, slapping their hands away and warning them that they'd lose an eye if they touched it. Now, not only were they using computers without grownups, they were adapting faster to them than their parents. They could figure computers out more easily, were more flexible in the face of rapid change, and more willing to just play around with a device — and hence really learn how it works. Kids are a big market for today's technologies. Adolescents are major consumers of cell phones, users of instant messaging, patrons of Playstation. But their importance goes beyond simple numbers. They're also fanatical consumers: teen gamers do more research on new games than adults do when buying a new car. They're harsh critics: visit any game or computer discussion board, and see for yourself just how detailed their criticism can be. Finally, and most importantly, they're serious social innovators: they're much less likely to follow the manual, and much more likely to invent new ways of using technologies, or build entire subcultures around them. Teens turned cell phones from business tools into pieces of youth culture. They've driven the growth of instant messaging and SMS. And they've flocked to blogs. They're not just early adopters. They're early adapters, too. Of course, today's kids are tomorrow's consumers. New products will be created to serve their preferences; new skills will be exploited by the next generation of devices; and new services will be sold to support their lifestyles. But today, even really small children – the Sesame Street and Disney Princess set – are interacting with technologies, and developing some powerful assumptions about technology and media. 6666,6666,6666Posted by Red Herring at April 30, 2004 09:25 AM http://blog.redherring.com/MT/archives/main/000192.html