Kids today, electronics, and entertainment Part 2

I read Patrick Rhone's article on Minimal Mac several months ago entitled TV Is Broken about his experience of watching a movie with his daughter on regular TV (no on-demand, no time-shifting, no streaming making), and how the concept of regular TV, which almost all of us grew up watching, makes no sense to today's children. So I started thinking about how kids today view all sorts of electronics and entertainment, having several young daughters of my own, I have a good experience base to draw from.

Read Part 1 here

On demand

First I will say that we have pretty much been without cable for almost seven years. So, our daughters have grown up without cable. And we have had a TiVo since before that. Except for the brief *experiment * in 2010 of not having a TV, we have always had the TiVo. So, we rarely watch live TV. So the concept of "watching what is on right now" vs. "watching only what you want to watch" does not exist in our household.

When we were in California last December, the hotel we were staying at in Pasadena had a lobby full of breakfast nooks. Each nook had a TV. And the nook that we were sitting in was set to Cartoon Network. My daughters refer to that TV as the "broken TV that played cartoons all of the time".

So, how do kids today look at television? First, the concept of "on-demand" is fully ingrained in the culture of how things "should" work. You want to watch Show X right now, so you pull it off of Netflix, or iTunes, or the TiVo, or wherever. It it is not on one of those services, it does not exist. When we are in a hotel, and there is a new show, or a new episode of a show, it is because the hotel has a better, or different, on-demand "collection".


And forget about commercials. Commercials fly in the face of the "on-demand" culture like nothing else. If you want to watch Show X, that is what you want to watch. Commercials make no sense in this scenario. And I am sure today's companies that have relied on TV commercials are rapidly finding out that commercials make no cents either in the new model.


And let's not forget about Xbox KINECT. After a multi-year on-again, off-again relationship with the Microsoft Xbox, I can firmly state that Xbox KINECT is the future. KINECT is to traditional entertainment what the design of the iPhone was to the "state-of-the-art" smartphones of the day. What the Nintendo Wii pioneered, and the PS3 perfected, was motion tracking of people with controllers.

But the KINECT does not require any controllers. It removes the idea of having to hold something in your hand from interacting with the TV, and thus removes friction. This is big stuff, especially for kids, who often have trouble with oversized controllers or the concept of a controller in general (or accidentally throwing a Wii controller at the TV). For kids today, the KINECT sensor (a.k.a the robot camera eye bar) is the most important part of the Xbox. Without it, the Xbox is only good for watching that poor guy in Trials HD and Trials Evolution repeatedly get blown up or smashed. And the newest generation of KINECT games, particularly the family favorite, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 (Amazon), actually puts the player in the game, on the TV. Amazing stuff.

Wrap up

So, kids today live in what appears to be a dream world, at least for those of us who grew up last century. They have the ability to watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it, and to interact with all kinds of cool stuff without mechanical intermediaries (keyboards, remotes, controllers, etc.). And I do not think they have a lot of patience for putting up with the old ways of doing business: controllers, commercials, cable.

Good movie. 80's Robot could not have dreamed of living in today's world (2011)