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Digital is central to the lives of children and teens in Canada. Like millennials, these are digital natives, with no concept of a world without the internet. Engaging them requires digital and mobile thinking from brands. It also requires an understanding of how behaviors are shifting—and an ethical approach, especially with kids, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Canada Teens and Children: A Look at Their Digital Lives and How Brands Interact with Them.”
For marketers targeting kids and teens, campaigns hinge on digital content and engaging young consumers in channels conducive to sharing. Since most youth only influence purchasing—leaving most of the actual buying to their parents—brands mainly focus on brand building and entertainment. It makes little sense to curate bottom-of-the-funnel online conversion with a segment of the population lacking both credit cards and buying power.
Canada’s young people—which eMarketer is defining as children and teens for this report—are an attractive target because of their future buying power. Becoming popular with teens may earn a ton of goodwill and mindshare that could last well into adulthood.
Children use family-owned devices to access the internet, often under the watchful eye of parents. Almost every aspect of their lives is rooted in digital: researching for school, playing games, streaming video and staying in touch with parents and other relatives.
In 2016, 2.5 million children 11 and younger in Canada will be internet users, accounting for 52.6% of the population in that age range. The time they spend online is increasingly on mobile devices, mainly smartphones.
eMarketer estimates that approximately 900,000 children 0 to 11 own or use a mobile phone at least once per month, which is equal to 18.5% of the population. Of those, almost half use a smartphone. Interpreting this data at face value doesn’t provide an accurate picture because the majority of this group—young children—do not even use these devices. The usage is concentrated in the oldest few years of the cohort.
Approximately 1.7 million children younger than 12 watch digital video, eMarketer estimates, and much of their video time is occupied with YouTube. Google made its YouTube Kids app available in Canada in November 2015, after more than 10 million downloads in the US. The app is described by the company as a "safe variant" of YouTube. Google stated that it approves only family-friendly ads in the app, and excludes food and beverage advertisements.
Social media users among children in Canada number 400,000, or about 8.9% of them. This usage is primarily YouTube, since 13 is the minimum age limit for most social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.
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