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Pop-Tarts: The Future of the Internet?

WWKD? What Would Kids Do? That’s the question posed in a recent study by ReadWriteWeb and Latitude, which asked young people about their hopes and dreams and ideas for the future. Not the future of the world, but the future of the world wide web.

As any parent knows, kids are way more imaginative than grown-ups. Generally speaking, their brains are more flexible; they don’t have impulse control; and they can’t accept no for an answer. (Can I have a witness?) What makes children so challenging also makes them supremely innovative. The study found that if kids ruled the wild, wild web, you’d be able to touch your screen and pull out … a pop-tart. Check out this video released along with the research. 

Latitude 42 Study Findings: Where Else Will Kids Think to Put the Web in the World? from latddotcom on Vimeo.

Pop-Tarts may not be taking over the internet any time soon, but they are taking Manhattan. A new Pop-Tarts World has opened in Times Square. There, you can try Pop-Tart sushi or access the brand’s high-fructose-powered online gaming portal. I’m relieved to say said tourist trap wasn’t “out of the toaster oven” when I took my own kids to New York City last winter, where we sampled Pop Art, instead of Pop-Tarts. Sadly, though, my daughters admit that the highlight of the trip was the time spent at the American Girl store. 

But, back to the point here. Kids are the ultimate focus group. They offer painfully honest feedback. My own 11 year old just yesterday asked if she could stay in the car to listen to the end of a story on NPR. This was not only a driveway moment but a turning point. She usually tells me how “boring” my radio is, with rare exceptions, like Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and A Prairie Home Companion. But now, she says, “I like listening to NPR.” (Especially when they are reporting about Pop-Tarts or Lady Gaga.) Now if only I could pry my iPhone out of her hands and get her interested in any of the age-appropriate offerings on PBSKids.org, like SciGirls or DesignSquad, instead of that consumerist American Girl website.

I guess the message of the Latitude research is that media makers and developers aiming to engage the next generation – the coveted demographic – should think about how to tap into young people’s visions for both an augmented reality and interconnected future.