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When do kids stop being kids?

Panelist says children as young as 5 or 6 years old are choosing their own games

If a developer has a game aimed at kids, should they try to sell it to the children or the parents? That was just one question posed to a "Creating Effectively for the Kids Market" panel at the GameON Ventures conference in Toronto Thursday, and it drew some interesting responses.

Judith Beauregard, executive producer and co-CEO of Montreal-based mobile and web developer Tobo Studio, fielded the question first.

"Before 8, you're selling to the parent," Beauregard said. "And that's why games for a younger group, up to 7 or 8, tend to be a lot more educational. Parents need to feel they're giving something good to their kid, something they'll learn with. When kids get that App Store password, which is around 9, really you're done with the educational stuff. [laughs] That's not true, but you can see the focus is really different from that point on. Kids want more entertainment in their games.

Debbie Gordon, director of the kidsmediacentre research program at Centennial College, said that most people think kids "stop being kids" around 12, but said in her experience it's closer to 8, with some parents handing over control of media consumption habits even sooner than that.

"On the broadcast side, there's almost no content these days being created for children 9 years of age and older because at that point, kids are curating their own agenda," Gordon said. "I think you can go lower on the Apple ID password. We've probably done hundreds of classroom discussions on that with kids, and I would say it's probably 5 or 6 years of age now. It very much depends on the environment and the kind of conversations, the literacy that happens around the dinner table, but it's not unusual. And those are bragging rights for kids as well. We'll often ask, 'How many of you know your Apple ID password?' and the hands shoot up to the sky."

That said, Gordon noted that every family is different, and some parents are more protective on those matters than others.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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