Generation Z and Empathetic Children’s Television
Why do children like and why? It’s an important question facing those developing, producing and creating animated content since children are generally the target audience of such content. And while it might be tempting to answer “no one actually knows”, Story of Me 2, a recent US consumer insight report from Nickelodeon, suggests that Generation Z (i.e., those 12 and under) are developing their own entertainment preferences in response to an ever-changing world.
As KidScreen notes, “the under-12 cohort, in fact, is already on its way to becoming a more inclusive, unselfish and socially aware group, contrary to the common assumption that ‘generation selfie’ is self-absorbed and introverted.” They are an empathetic group and it’s no surprise that they like content which supports their values.
The entire article makes for an interesting read but, for the TLDR crowd, here are some key takeaways:
- The biggest concerns of today’s kids? “School, their parents’ safety, bullying, appearance and cyber popularity. School safety is also a common concern, indicating how much kids are aware of current safety issues in the world.”
- “93% of kids say they would like to have a friend from a different group, and 81% would like to have a friend with a different religious affiliation. Gen Z also believes in the importance of social causes and doing good for others.”
- Nickelodeon strives to have empathy be a major part of their content and, in order to do, the focus on empathy is explicitly baked into the development process. The studio points to Nella the Princesss Knight, a newly launched animated preschool series, as a successful example of that process.
- Cartoon Network identifies Steven Universe and We Bare Bears as “strong examples of programs that reflect empathy, kindness, and inclusion” while still being funny. The biggest challenge of creating long-lasting, positive messaging “is being specific enough so that it is actionable and useful, and makes a kid try new behavior.”
- “Another broadcaster firmly connected to its audience, and immersed in empathetic programming and campaigns, is NBCUniversal’s preschool net Sprout (Dot., Kody Kapow).” The network is especially excited by the success of Nina’s World, which features a young Hispanic protagonist and her multicultural community.