The kidsmediacentre is a research centre and think tank in Toronto, Canada. We are part of the School of Communications, Media and Design at Centennial College. Our goal is to explore children’s media futures and help the media industry in Canada produce content that makes a difference in kids’ lives.
As researchers, we get paid the big bucks (jk jk) to explore, analyze and unpack young audience’s relationships with this enormous, amorphous, life altering and life-influencing monolith we call media. Kids and teens are often called first adopters for good reason. Parents don’t have the time to live their own lives and supervise all their children’s swipes, taps and texts, so youth spend a lot of time doing it on their own.
Part and parcel of exploring this new ground is the need to push boundaries and many young people do this from the comfort of their home. The digital space is a mostly boundary-less universe with few rules and little oversight. As commercial values and monetizing digital media content becomes increasingly important for younger audiences, the loose collection of rules around “truth in advertising, influencing your social media following, paid sponsorship and hiring kids as branding agents becomes apparent.
But before kids can monetize they need an audience, and building followers, subscribers and a community will require digitally literate and privacy savvy choices. How important is the follower ticker count to your kids? Are they driven by quantity or quality? Do young people know what a career limiting move looks like when they’re 17 and all about controversy? Are they manically building a following in order to entertain offers from marketing agencies?
No question, much of young people’s digital behaviour is subterranean and GenZ and millenials like it that way. Indeed since the advent of MSN, parents have been handwringing over their teen’s social behaviour hoping and praying that when they Google their child’s name, they won’t see thousands of pages of online public images.
Visit kidsmediacentre to learn more!
WHY ALL THE BLURRED PICTURES?
Short Answer: Canadian Ethics guidelines preclude us from sharing images of youth under 18 using social media to build fame.
Long Answer: Despite the heavy digital footprints, very public personas and sharing practices of many young people, as a Canadian college we are limited in the kinds of photos we share of youth in our research. We are governed by Tri-Council ethics principles, which ensure academic integrity and high standards of research ethics. As children’s researchers we need to ensure young people’s privacy is not at risk. Where consent has been secured we can share video and images. In the case of celebrities and stars in the public domain, blurring is not required.