Hanging with the Tater Tots: A quick Q&A with Kids

Yesterday I took the day off (yay!) and was able to visit the extended day program run by the park district that I used to work at.  I miss the kids and the people who work there (one of my best friends from High School runs it).

During particularly heated games of “Skippo” and “Baloney Sandwich” (aka B.S.), we started talking about kid pop culture.  Here’s what was said:

1. Emily, 10, LOVES “VMK” and “webkinz”  All her friends have a pet on webkinz and she plays for free on vmk (you can pay a fee and have more abilities/tokens/etc).  She knows OF Club Penguin (and talks about it like it’s a common topic of interest at lunch table convos) but doesn’t go on it because she’s happy on VMK.  She doesn’t go on Nick.com that much either.  She doesn’t like Nicktropolis because she thinks its boring– “What are you supposed to do all day?”  Her cousin and two friends from her class are on her safe list at VMK.  She hasn’t hooked up with anyone’s pets on webkinz (she treats it like a Tomagotchi).

She doesn’t watch Disney anymore (she called it “baby girl” which I thought was odd considering its three powerhouse tween shows– “That’s So Raven,” “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody,” and “Hannah Montana“) and she never watches Cartoon Network (“that thing only shows boy cartoons”).  She loves Nickelodeon and thinks Nicktoons Network is cool (although she admitted that she didn’t watch that “goth” show, which I will leave anonymous for now, grumble).  Zoey101 is her favorite. She “LOOOOOVES” it.  She “loooooves” Chase (Zoey’s pseudo-boyfriend).  She also really likes “Ned’s Declassified” a lot (yay, so do I).

Emily does NOT look at Nicktoons Network as being any different than Nickelodeon. In fact, none of the kids did. They think it’s all the same.   Instead of a being similar to a younger sibling channel (similar goals, same family, its own entity), they each seemed to regard Nicktoons as Nickelodeon’s twin channel.  Some expressed frustration at not having Nicktoons (it’s a premium channel).

2. Chandra, 11, only gets to play on the computer at school.  Sometimes she gets to play on Disney.com and Nick.com and that’s really exciting for her.  She’s been on Discovery’s website too (for school projects).  She seemed to only understand the kid internet as far as cable channel websites.  She didn’t know of Club Penguin or VMK.  Her parents aren’t really “hands on” sadly…

As for books… she’s “slowly” (and slowly is being stuck on page 90 for about 45 minutes of daydreaming, I can relate, I was the same kind of child) reading the Levine’s “Fairy” books (Tink and so on– a Disney series) and the Hannah Montana book series.  She likes “Pony Club” (which I think she means the Saddle Club, or whatever that WB show is) and the Bratz series on Saturday mornings.  She also likes “Viva Pinata” and “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” on ABC, Saturday Mornings.

3. Hammerhead (yes, that’s a nickname that he insists is his real name… it was given to him about two years ago thanks to a headbutting incident), 9,  says that he plays on Nick.com but would rather blow it up.  Nice.  He also informed us that his mother had him at 17, he is the “best kind of mistake” and that I look as old as his grandma.  Deep sigh.  His friends are on Club Penguin, but again, he would rather “blow it up with a really cool lazer” (as he then demonstrated through his Lincoln Log construction that looked more like a lawn mower than a weapon).

He loves Lincoln Logs, loves Army guys, loves Dominoes (and destroying other’s domino constructions), finds hitting to be a “girls thing” while headbutting is a “boy thing.”  His favorite shows are “Yu Gi Oh” “Pokemon” and “TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon.  He also likes “Ben 10,” “Naruto,” and “Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends.”  Even though he says he doesn’t watch “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” he sure does know a LOT about it.  Oh… an apparently Charzard from Pokemon would “so eat” me.  Nice.

He did admit that his older sister cruises the web a lot more than he does.  (His older sister is 13, I used to be her camp counselor).  “She goes on that myspace my mom hates cos thats where the boys are.”  (At this point in our conversation over “Skippo” he shoots me with his Lincoln Log Lawn Mower and runs back to the other boys building an empire out of dominos and Lincoln Logs)

Katelyn, 10.  Oh, Katelyn.  I’ve known this child for a long time.  Cute as a button, germy as a used tissue.  Forgive me for that bluntness… but the truth is, we keep a hand sanitzer around whenever she’s wanting to play cards or Mancala (oh, those darn mancala beads are like a haven of disease). Seriously.  Anyway… Katelyn is one of those darlings that always has the latest to show off.  She showed us her new gameboy, which she then dumped in her backpack after empting her automatic pencil sharpener shavings into the same backpack (instead of the trash).  We make a little fuss about her treatment of her things and she shrugs and sweetly smiles, “Mom will get me a new one.”  Nice.

She loves all things Disney.  She listed off all the shows she watches (which is basically the entire day’s programming).  At FIRST she pretended like she didn’t know what was on Nick.  “What’s on it besides Spongebob?”  However, once Emily started talking about TeenNick, she changed her tune.  She got excited when Emily brought up Zoey101.  She has Tivo in her own room and gets to watch everything when she wants– like HBO, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.  Zoinks.  She also found it fun to tell me that her mother is two years younger than I am…

This past weekend, Katelyn went to the Christina Agulera concert.  She’s also been to two Britney Spears concerts.  They (meaning Katelyn and Chandra) still love Britney, but concede that they’ve heard bad things about them. Emily, however, was disgusted by Britney, which started a very mature conversation between the three oft them (like I wasn’t even there) about the mistakes Britney has made (as soon as Emily expressed her views, both Katelyn and Chandra folded, saying Britney was sad and gross).  They never really said anything more about Britney than “she smokes” and “she cut her hair off” and (in a very motherly voice) “she’s made bad decisions”.

I  love it when kids hear what their parents say and repeat it as if it was their own thought.  🙂

Anyway… I thought I would share some of the fun things I heard yesterday.  I’m going to try and get some kids in the office to do some web testing.  Learning never stops.

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  1. July 13, 2007 at 4:10 pm

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