Every generation of kids is distinct, preferring different books and TV shows, among many other things. But kids today are being raised much differently than current adults were. They’re not just digital natives — even toddlers are growing up with smartphones and tablets at their fingertips, and mobile internet access is an expected norm. They live in a world where communication is instantly accessible. These qualities heavily influence the way parents are trying to raise them.
Some aspects have remained the same. The goals of parents today look a lot like what their own parents tried to teach them. They want to teach their kids to read, to enhance their education, and to give them the tools they need to be successful in life. Fortunately, evolving technology has given businesses new ways to address this, including subscription-based services for kids such as Amazon Rapids.
Subscription Based Services on the Rise
Subscription services aren’t new, and have grown to be well-known brands such as Netflix, Hello Fresh, and Birchbox. At this point, they can cover almost any type of product or service, be it geek memorabilia, pet food and toys, or eco-friendly snacks. There usually is no contract required, and subscribers pay a monthly fee to access content or receive products. They can often skip months when necessary, or pause or discontinue their subscription at any time to be restarted later.
Kids and families haven’t been left out of the craze. For instance, Ecocentric Mom offers a “Mom and Baby Discovery Box” to help mothers of toddlers get things started on the right foot. With kids specifically in mind, there are dozens of subscription box services, most with fun and educational goals in mind. Examples include Little Passports, which aims to teach kids about geography and different cultures, and Green Kid Craft Kits, which provide eco-friendly, nature themed, educational arts and crafts projects. When considering more technologically oriented subscriptions, service options like KidPass help parents easily find and access child-friendly activities near them (e.g., swimming lessons, academic support, crafts activities, museum activities). Curiosityville delivers a “personalized learning world” to tablet-savvy preschoolers to connect educators, parents, and children. There are even digital subscription services enabled or with the goal of being learning assistive technology for kids with disabilities.
These programs aren’t always developed with the digital native kid in mind. In fact, there are elements of concern about whether or not children should be digital natives at all. These are probably growing pains associated with tech outpacing a time-starved parent’s ability to fully monitor and engage their kids, who are spending more and more time with digital media. Children between the age of 5 and 16 spend six and a half hours with screen-based media, while teens can spend roughly 9 hours with digital media just for enjoyment (as opposed to when they use technology for school work). This actually presents businesses an opportunity to help parents turn the tide on what kind of impact technology will have on kids.
Amazon Rapids is a digital subscription service aimed at 7 to 12-year-olds. It provides stories presented in an incredibly accessible format: short form messenger bubbles between one character and another. Kids can read at their own pace — great news for those with difficulty reading — and has a function to look up the definition and pronunciation of words or to read the story aloud. The purpose is to get younger kids interested in reading, a clear attempt to capitalize on the digital craze and parents’ desire to ensure content is wholesome with educational benefits.
The service was released in November 2016; a solid look at how successful the app is is forthcoming. Some experts are skeptical about its usefulness as an education tool, but note that parents should use the tools that are engaging their kids to read. Depending on the device you’re using, the level of success is unclear with an unknown amount of downloads (Amazon has withheld this number from both Amazon.com and iTunes) and mixed reviews across rating sites.
This service is still in its infancy stages. A new app providing a new storytelling format may need more time to ramp up. However, it’s worth noting that even if this particular offering for subscription based services for kids isn’t successful, Amazon isn’t about to slow down. In early May 2017, the retail giant launched a new subscription box service that provides curated, STEM-oriented educational toys for three youth demographics (3 to 4 years, 5 to 7 years, and 8 to 13 years). It’s suggested that the consistency of new educational toys could build a growing interest.
The marketplace is evolving, but that’s because customers’ habits are changing at their youngest points. However, our needs as people remain the same. Even if Amazon Rapids isn’t ultimately successful, the fact that a company like Amazon attempted it is proof enough that businesses should be striving to meet old goals in new ways. The service attempts to stimulate a love for reading by providing it in a format developers think youth can identify with, and that’s inspiring. Just as inspiring is the fact that Amazon isn’t just trying one approach.
Subscription based services for kids are really catching on, and they’re trying to fill in the gaps as parents struggle to adapt and find the best new ways to help their children grow up to be the best version of themselves. Some are just plain fun, but services like Amazon Rapids are pushing forward to merge technology, education, and entertainment. Your business should be looking for ways to redirect your efforts and provide new solutions for age-old goals, too.