Last night, Huge's spacious headquarters were packed with some of New York's most digital-minded professionals, all talking quickly over Brooklyn Lagers, anxiously awaiting the panel of experts to arrive. The panel wasn't a parade of startup CEOs or Google execs. It was six kids aged nine to 12 who were there to tell everyone about their digital habits.
While the panel is just a very small sampling, its interesting to see just how different kids' tech habits are from adults, and even teens'. Here's some of what they shared:
Computers vs. tablets
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Of the six pint-sized experts on the panel, all use a tablet on a regular basis and most have their own. A couple also have their own computer while the others use their parents' computer. Rebecca, 12, is already ready for an upgrade: "I want a computer [for Christmas] because my computer doesn't work very well," she says.
When it comes to what they use computers and tablets for, all of them use the Internet. They mostly like to watch stuff - whether it's on YouTube or Netflix - just they also research free games to play alone or with their friends.
What they watch on YouTube
All the kids are big YouTube users and especially love funny videos. If there's a video of a hamster doing something hilarious like dancing on a piano, these kids will find it. A couple talked about watching "haul" videos, where people show off their recent shopping splurges and watching game-play, where they can watch other people play their favorite games like Mindcraft and Assassin's Creed. (Yes, they play those.)
None of the kids are on Facebook or Twitter although a few are on Instagram. The girls like following their favorite YouTube stars, like Bethany Mota, but didn't mention any other celebrities they like to keep tabs on. Other than YouTube stars, the kids stick to following their friends, friends of friends and people who go to their school. And this is encouraging, they don't care how many followers they have or how many "likes" their photos get.
Interesting, one 12-year-old says he does not see the point of live TV. "Why would you watch something with commercials? I record everything and watch it later," he says. Another trend is that they like watching an entire season of a show on Netflix, instead of waiting a week between episodes.
Even at 8-years-old, these kids are buying music - at least with their parent's credit card. Half the panel bought Taylor Swift's new album on iTunes, which is where they get all their music. No illegal downloading here! Only one kid on the panel uses Spotify, and she gets pretty involved with it, making her own playlists and poking around to see what else is being offered. One of the kids has an iPod Nano, but the rest just listen to their music on the family's computer or phone.
It's not surprising that kids in elementary school today are more plugged in that ever before. All the kids say their schools offer coding as an elective or after-school activity. We're a long way than one computer in the classroom with The Oregon Trail, that's for sure.