Media has had a complex relationship with parents who are now finding it a new ally during the coronavirus pandemic. With limited resources or places to go, many homebound families are turning to content for help. That’s giving media companies a fresh opportunity to reframe their relationship with parents for now and in the future.
During this time, parents are feeling anxiety 1.4 times more than those without kids, according to a new Ipsos Kids+Family survey. It found that six in 10 moms and dad (61%) worry about keeping the kids occupied. Nearly as many parents (59%) worry about balancing work and school. For them, content is an important outlet and problem solver.
Tension builds as screen time grows
But the tension builds from decades of being told to limit children’s screen time, especially for non-educational content. Ipsos data shows that content usage under sheltering orders is up significantly. This includes all content formats, types, platforms and times of the day. Parents are using content for day care, education, family bonding, news and adult escape, according to the survey. In essence, screens are replacing their usual “village” of support.
“Media companies can help alleviate both the demands parents have and the guilt they feel about using screens to reduce the pressure,” says Andrea Marker, senior vice president and head of content and platform strategy. “We’re already seeing content creators innovate to solve these real-world challenges parents are facing.”
For example, Michelle Obama began a weekly livestreamed reading of classic children’s books. She’s one of many celebrities including Josh Gad, LeVar Burton, and Amy Adams to be reading to the masses during the pandemic. Plus, British fitness YouTuber Joe Wicks launched a live-stream PE class series for families under quarantine. These PE and reading sessions are among the most talked about online content on Twitter, according to a recent Synthesio social media analysis.
“Parents are getting creative by using social media to crowdsource content for their kids,” says Marker. They’re playing more with the kids, too. Since the virus hit, 24% of parents purchased a new gaming console and 22% bought a new video game. Dads (57%) are outplaying moms (45%), so it’s important that makers promote games that will engage dads, Marker adds.
Media can help parents with promotion and programming
Under the crisis, the majority of kids are watching more TV, especially 6- to 12-year-olds, say parents. That includes educational shows. Teens are spending more time on every screen from news to TikTok. “But all kids are watching movies even more,” says Virginia Lennon, senior vice president of Ipsos US Media Development. “For film companies considering early and platform releases, kids and family fare would be a smart option right now.” Hollywood could also help parents by promoting content to them that will keep the kids occupied while they work from home, especially if it doubles as edutainment.
For tired parents, shows like “Friends” are nostalgic, comforting and an easy choice. It’s the most requested content on Twitter, per a Synthesio social media analysis. That makes now an ideal time to help parents relax with marathons of their favorites or catch up on shows they’ve missed, like on HBO’s free classic series.
“These are all opportunities for media and entertainment companies to help make life easier for parents,” says Marker. “They’ll need to be thoughtful about how to ease parents’ anxiety, rather than contribute to it.”