Understanding White Space: A Talk on Children’s Media

On February 25th, the Children’s Media Association hosted an energetic panel consisting of Kim Diaz, Director of Production & Development at Sesame Workshop; Azadeh (Azi) Jamalian, Founder of The GIANT Room; and Vera Verba, YouTube Manager for Sesame Workshop. Each panelist brought a different perspective on the notion of white space in content and it all came together with the presence of moderator and seasoned children’s media professional, David Kleeman. The panel began with an explanation on the definition of white space in varying forms of media, which David furthered by chiming in with his idea that white space demonstrates an area where an audience is being under-served to a subject matter or topic. 

Diaz began the panel by discussing that kids’ learning process hasn’t changed much over the generations but rather the world around them has. A drastic shift in technology and more importantly, availability, has demanded a drastic need for new learning techniques and context for children as they use traditional trial-and-error in a new digital space. Verba followed up with her experience in the YouTube domain about the importance of determining trending topics so that creators can be better tuned into what will resonate with kids. David agreed with this notion and pushed forth his idea of the emerging field of interactive content through Augmented Reality as the next big platform for content. Jamalian rounded out the panel with her experiences at The GIANT Room and how it has given her insight into the benefits of creating physical play through apps. Parents often note a gap in understanding when it comes to media in new tech like phone apps or streaming sites which make it difficult for children to fully show interest in their attempts to bond.

At the close of the panel portion, the Q&A began with David leading the talk on what the audience believes would be the best route for kids media to take to fill the white space. Many of the attendees discussed how technology is changing at an exponential pace, unlike with any previous generation. This drastic change has led kids to feel over-scheduled and pressured to experience so much in such a little frame of time. The panelists spoke on the importance of giving kids more time and independence when interacting with new tools and toys. A handful of parents in the audience also spoke on the issues of demonstrating to their children that they too have a learning process to go through when they are trying to understand current popular media. Allowing yourself to show genuine interest and support for the child with a new media will overcome any obstacle that may present itself such as ease of use within an app. 

Understanding trends and divisions between children and parents allows creators to better understand white space and how much creative freedom it allows. Being an initiator and encourager for new experiences for kids will help you access the white spaces. A major point that stuck out to me is the notion that we can gauge how well we have supported new experiences for children when they no longer need our intervention to learn, explore, and adapt.