Thursday afternoon, I chose to attend a Research Insights session at The Children’s Media Conference. The session was broken up into two separate presentations that discussed the topics of gender identification in the digital marketplace and the new phenomena of FOMO, or the fear of missing out.
The first speaker, Gary Pope, gave an excellent presentation on the prevalence of the colors pink and blue, in a child’s upbringing and how those assignments eventually effect the formation of their gender identification. I’ve found that this point directly applies to the theory of operant conditioning, where a child performs a behavior and is either rewarded, which would lead to a repetition of the action, or punished, which would lead to an end of the performance. Typically, if a little girl is told to play with pink toys, and is rewarded for playing with a color specific object, the child will continue to view pink as a positive and gender specific color. Pope then continued to discuss the need for a shift in toy corporations that force toy separation, so that more unisex toys would be available in the marketplace.
Overall, I found Pope’s perspective on the mobile tablet new and refreshing simply because he described it as a gender-neutral device. Although this may seem obvious – that boys and girls can both operate a tablet – Pope explained that devices such as the iPad enable and actually encourage children to play with opposite gender-labeled games that they would otherwise ignore.
To end the session, Renuka Gupta and Alan Hathaway shared their research on the constant connectivity of children in 2014. They explained that because children happen to live their life through a screen most of the day, anxiety and stress arise when connectivity is not available. Therefore, many children are in constant fear of the fact that they are missing out on something fun and exciting when Wi-Fi is not available.
I found it unusual, yet interesting, how this presentation explained our current online world as enduring a “content obesity epidemic.” It had never occurred to me to make such a connection, however it is clear that because of the mass amounts of content online, children feel as if they need to explore it all, and therefore, constantly have their noses in their devices.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the presentations today, and I’m excited to see what the last day of the conference has in store.
More to come!