Sometimes I feel like sitting in my rocker on my front porch to complain about “kids these days”. Children growing up in this digital age have access to things I could not have even dreamed of when I was a child. As such, their tastes are extremely different than what I thought was entertaining growing up. I see so many parents complaining about how their child can spend HOURS watching someone else play video games or open toys on YouTube. We just don’t get how that could be entertaining. Wouldn’t they rather play the video game themselves??
Understanding exactly what is entertaining to the kids of this digital age there are a few things to comprehend first.
The new generation has grown up with instant gratification. You take a picture of them with your phone, and they immediately ask to see it. They don’t know the torture of waiting for 1-hour photo, only to see that just half of your pictures actually turned out ok. They are also used to being able to pull up the content they want to see at a moments notice. They don’t have to wait around for Saturday Morning Cartoons. They can enjoy their favorite show whenever they want.
Why Instant Gratification Has Changed Entertainment
In this instant world described above, many kids don’t have the patience to play through a video game themselves. They watch someone else do it because it feels like they are playing it, without the pesky work of actually playing it. They want to be able to open toys all day long, so watching someone else open toys can give them the same instant gratification of opening the toy themselves.
Along with the instant gratification, kids today definitely have a shorter attention span. Actually, I’d venture to say that everyone has a shorter attention span. Even adults will watch TV while on their phone, or browse their phone while waiting in line for something. Since we are used to things happening immediately, it has taken its toll on how much we are able to pay attention to a particular item before we become distracted.
Why Attention Spans Have Changed Entertainment
Kids today don’t typically sit and watch TV shows these days. There are a few exceptions in this house for the new Duck Tales and the Netflix Series “Dragons: Race to the Edge”. Under most circumstances though, kids just aren’t willing to sit through a 20-minute show. Even though watching 4, 5-minute videos on YouTube is the exact same thing. They like to be able to choose the next video quickly and move on from the video they are watching as soon as they lose interest. The kinds of videos they are watching on YouTube usually don’t require them to stay to the end to see how it all pans out, and how the plot gets resolved. There generally is no plot, so it’s easy to pick up and let go whenever they want.
The ability to access entertainment through any device is also a big factor in today’s entertainment choices for children. They expect the videos and entertainment they would like to watch to be available on any device at any moment. This could also be considered part of instant gratification, however, it is slightly different in that the format they are viewing the entertainment is usually a smaller screen.
Why Mobile Access Has Changed Entertainment
Watching shows or videos through a smaller screen that can travel with them anywhere changes the way videos are created. There is more close up shots in the videos instead of large expansive scenes to take in. What is being called entertainment these days is formatted to mobile devices for optimal viewing instead of large screen TV’s. The videos kids watch these days are mobile friendly and the children love that.
As adults that did not grow up in this digital age, it is definitely hard for us to understand the things that entertain our children. Just try to remember, when your child is spending all of their allotted time for the day browsing YouTube, you probably used to sit in front of the TV for hours watching MTV or Saturday Morning Cartoons too.
Make sure to check up on exactly what your kids are watching on their devices by using Boomerang Parental Controls. It is currently the only parental control app that gives you a report on YouTube viewing history!