What my kids have taught me about content
Proud parent and 44 Project Manager Bryan Jones looks a little closer to home to find out how children absorb information – it may be the key to engagement…
Well, the children are all back in their classrooms again after the summer break. Parents are high-fiving at the school gates. Yes! We survived another summer.
Sophie and I have four. Yes, four. I know. I’m baffled too. How the hell did that happen?
They’re expensive, they never tidy up after themselves – but they do provide excellent potential content for blogs.
This one began to form in my mind when we were on our annual summer getaway. I was watching the children entertain themselves around the pool. They were all sitting down for once, exhausted from hours of swimming, playing football, eating ice cream and arguing in the sunshine.
There was Daisy – our eldest. She’s 15 and has always loved books. Her South of France reading matter combined her bookworm tendencies with her love of drama – she had her head buried in the script of J.K. Rowling’s play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, re-reading it for the third time.
Joseph is 12, and usually top of his class in literature. His ‘use of language’ is consistently held up by his teachers as a model for others to follow. In other words he has a smart mouth.
Crazily, Joseph avoids books. It’s verging on a phobia. Last term, I had to read Moonfleet with him – going carefully through each chapter in turn – so he could finish his homework.
Joseph’s love of words has been developed via YouTube videos, memes, Snapchat, Instagram and other wacky apps he downloads on his iPad.
Then there’s Jack. He’s eight and doesn’t have time in his busy diary to read a book. It’s OK if I read to him though. He loves that. We’ve just done Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Five-year-old Alfie will look at a book so long as it has brilliant pictures and illustrations. He’s not interested in the story unless there’s an illustration.
Four different kids with four different ways of consuming information. And isn’t there something in this – something to help us when we produce content?
You can write as brilliantly, vividly and concisely as Ernest Hemingway – but it doesn’t guarantee all of your audience will be engaged. Some you’ll need to give visuals, a video, an infographic, big numbers, or a blast of audio.
That beautifully shot and edited video might hit the sweet-spot for some – but what about the ones that would prefer to read the transcript instead?
I love being a parent – and learn something new every day from my children. It might be what pop princess Ariana Grande is up to, or something to do with the latest Ryan Higa YouTube video (you might want to look him up at nigahiga), but they really keep me on my toes.
And if my fab four are anything to go by, as communicators now and in the future, we need to be prepared to mix it up to get our message across to tomorrow’s audience. There’s still power of the written word – but we all need to keep reminding ourselves it’s now just one part of our ever-growing content pallet.