Beyond trend spotting

Regular readers of this blog are sometimes surprised that I identify trends before they hit mainstream culture. I’ve been asked repeatedly, “How do you do that?”

There are many trend spotters looking around, but I always go deep. Even when “mentally cruising” news reports and press releases, or even in New York City at Toy Fair later this week, I target products or ideas that have implications or applications for children, parents or the family. That means I don’t chase rabbit tails: look under the surface for what matters to you.

I continually survey what’s happening on the front lines of the family. I read voraciously. I observe interactions. I study findings by professionals, family and education activists, publishers and children’s product companies.

I continually ask, “Is there an implication or application here for a child, educator, parent or family?”

When the answer is, “Yes,” you’ll read it here.

Ludwig anyone?

The choice of baby names always reflects the times, so it’s no wonder we see the impact of Instagram filters in hospital nurseries.

As an author, I expect to sign books for many children named Lux, Ludwig and Amaro in coming months.

Social support or social pressure?

Too many Facebook friends can increase pressure on teens.

That was a summary statement pulled from recent research out of Canada. Although the sample size was small, the effects of online pressure is certain to be studied again, across a broader population and for longer periods of time.

It’s easy to understand how having 300 or more Facebook friends could trigger a swing from a teen celebrating online popularity to feeling online pressure. Just think how kids feel who have 1,000+ friends!

Super screen

Giant screen TV ads are running nonstop in the build up to Super Sunday.

Even though the appropriateness for children watching Super Bowl halftime shows and ads varies each year, gathering around the big screen is still viewed as “together time” for families.

Research shows that as more Millennials become parents, subscription video on demand is increasing…and all that programming is watched on big screens.

Beyond millennials

Millennials are so yesterday.

After all, marketers are already working to name the generation following millennials.

Currently under consideration: Post-Millennials, iGen and Bridge.

Although Generation Z also makes the list, I feel a little nervous using the last letter we’ve got. That feels so “end of the line.”

iLoveMG

We’re in the heart of the iLoveMG initiative.

A translation: iLoveMG represents a push by Workman Publishers to increase attention and interest in middle grade reading.

Although cynics might snicker at devoting an entire campaign to this niche, grades 3-6 are key in determining what kind of reader children will become. During these years, students discover favorite authors, genres and series. Kids begin to truly read independently.

It’s worth looking past the promotional talk to recognize the importance of the issue.

Toys-to-life

Are kids still playing with their Christmas gifts? After all, the holiday was exactly one month ago.

Kids who received toys with both digital and physical properties don’t draw a line between the two elements. These “connected toys” have opened an entirely new product category called toys-to-life.

If you’ve watched your child press pictures in a print book or swish a magazine page, thinking a paper page works like a tablet, you know that new variations of these “toys-to-life” products will be under Christmas trees eleven months from today.