By Helen Dewdney

So, you have a business, you have an Internet site and a blog. You don’t sell to children and young people so completely ignore them? Are you missing something? Yes.

  1. Households with children are more likely to have Internet access.
  2. Children and young people are on their computers and mobiles a ridiculous amount of time!
  3. Children and young people use computers and Internet access for their homework
  4. Parents listen to their children and ask them to do research for them many a time!
  5. They are your future customers

So how does this affect your business? Let’s take an example. You sell high end jewellery that children and young people wouldn’t be able to buy. Possibly true, but they might be helping their father choose a present for their Mum. Dad’s asked his daughter Lucy to look on the internet for a present because he couldn’t be bothered. Your site is geared only to adults. Another site is more child friendly, mentions children and young people, has a few quotes from a child saying how she helped daddy choose a gift for Mummy and has a picture of a child dressing up in some of the jewellery. Don’t think for a minute that your jewellery is far too up market for a child to wear! What little girl doesn’t like to dress up in Mummy’s clothes and jewellery? Which site do you think Lucy is going to favour?

Let’s take another example. You have a nutrition website, selling food, recipes and related material. Well the kids don’t buy this stuff do they? Maybe not. But at both Key Stage 1 and 2 (primary school children) food is a HUGE topic on the curriculum! If you have any kind of food related website I would be hard pushed to find a way that a child couldn’t use it! Printing off pictures for a collage, researching how something is made, comparing prices etc. Again, which site are they going to look at more? One that is easily accessible to them. Whilst there on there, parents are helping with homework, the child comes across something they would like to make but need a mould from you or they see something that actually they might like oh and let’s not forget the homework with your contact details on it going to the teacher and on 3B’s class display in the corridor. All potential customers.

Then, don’t forget the young people at secondary school. How many of them are accessing the Internet on their ‘phones too?! Some of these young people are your future customers. Many of these children and young people also have older siblings of course and there’s another potential customer! Is your blog really accessible to children and young people?

You don’t need me to tell you how big social media is in young people’s lives! What’s your Facebook page like? Will it attract them? Will they be telling people about your company on Twitter? How do you respond to queries from young people? Will they follow you on Twitter and retweet your tweets?

So, you’re convinced now that children and young people will stumble upon your website and you’d like them to stay. But you don’t want it to be a child’s site. It doesn’t have to be, just a few tweaks here and there and you never know what new audience you might get. Remember others in your niche are unlikely to be attracting a young audience so with very little work here and there will make your site stand out. What tweaks? So, what’s the best way to find out how to make your site stand out against your competition with this new younger audience? Ask them. Consultation with children and young people is a matter of course in the not for profit sector, less so in the private sector. It isn’t the same as asking adults and needs to be undertaken with specialists in the area, playworkers, youth workers, participation workers, links with schools etc. So how do you do that? Well the “How” is more than a short blog post….

Children and Young People Consultation
National Children’s Bureau

About the Author
A Children’s Services Consultant Helen combines 25 years’ experience with skills, knowledge & passion for improving customer service. Providing unique customer service advice with for companies & customer through an innovative approach, complaining! Humorous & informative www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk

Call Graham Jones Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist

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