Nanda Kumar Nanda Kumar CEO - Suntec Business Solutions

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Next generation is here, but are we listening to them?

  • You surely know these words from Whitney Houston’s song, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way,” but how many of us actually take heed of this message?

    big dataWhilst digitally-oriented corporations go on about how big data will help them profile customers and be able to give them personalized service, they may be missing the point if they don’t take a closer look at what kids of today are doing. They, after all, will become customers in the very near future – if they aren’t already.


    We are not talking here of the targeted advertising toy manufacturers and fast-food purveyors mastered years ago – this is all about major shifts in what they do and how they do it. Everything from leisure activities to education is changing so rapidly we may not be noticing the effect it is having on children.


    Kids today have virtually no tolerance for scheduled TV programs. They are too busy with homework and social networking online to be tied to archaic programming methodologies. If they want to see something they will go to their iPad or mobile phone and watch the programs they want, when they want them.


    If they can’t find what they want on Netflix, they will probably view it on YouTube or even download a pirated copy. For younger children, once they have found what they like, a favorite cartoon or Disney movie for example, they can watch them over an over again ‘ad nausea.’


    This is exacerbated by kids aged 0 to 8 in the U.S. increasingly gaining access to mobile devices (75 percent today, compared to 52 percent just two years ago), according to Common Sense Media.


    Interestingly, 7 percent of them already have their own tablets, and to put this into perspective, only 8 percent of adults had their own tablets just two years ago.


    In another survey, 77 percent of parents believed that tablets help children's learning and creativity, and 70 percent of children under the age of 12 have used a mobile device or tablet.  


    Smartphones and tablets are considered as ‘must haves’ and kids are learning to use them well before they can even speak. How many times have you seen parents keep toddlers occupied by handing them a device to play with?


    Many schools now use tablets in place of blackboards and textbooks and sophisticated systems are available, not only to manage the content being distributed, but also to monitor if it has been read.


    Homework is more fun to do and the results can be instantly tabulated to determine a student’s progress.

    They use there devices to find their way, communicate with friends, access the internet to get answers to every little question, play games, etc. etc. You name it and it probably involves mobile technology of some kind.


    Kathryn L. Mills wrote in a paper entitled ‘Effects of Internet use on the adolescent brain: despite popular claims, experimental evidence remains scarce,’ that “there is currently no evidence to suggest that Internet use has or has not had a profound effect on brain development.


    Successfully navigating this new world is likely to require new skills, which will be reflected in our neural architecture on some level. What has been determined is that students were less likely to remember specific information but were more likely to remember where to find the specific information.”


    Children are adapting to new technologies faster than scientists can determine what effect it has on their mental or physical development but evidence increasingly suggests that time spent online does not displace time spent doing other activities associated with health and well-being. It may even increase awareness of these issues.


    Nevertheless, it appears that activities being instilled and adopted by children today will set the scene for the way act in future. Although there are many players in the ecosystem feeding this trend, only those that understand it best or are able to offer what is really wanted will succeed.


    CSPs should act soon to capture this booming market. It also provides more challenges to CSPs as we will probably see regulation to control what the kids view or browse. But wouldn’t controlling access fly against planned net neutrality policy. So, what is the solution going forward and who really knows what kids will actually want and be willing to pay for it?  

    Nanda Kumar
    About Nanda Kumar Nanda Kumar works as CEO at Suntec Business Solutions
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