This is a video you may have seen:

It shows a toddler sitting up holding a magazine. She tries to swipe it – she tries to expand it – she bangs it to try to make it play. Nothing happens. And in frustration she throws it away. To a toddler a magazine is a tablet that’s broken.

This is – it is said – how this generation is growing up. It will have a totally different set of norms and behaviours.

I have just stepped away from a somewhat heated online debate about this. Below is verbatim what I said:

I have to say I don’t agree. How do we know that the toddler thinks the magazine is a broken tablet? They might just toss it aside they way they would with anything they don’t (yet) understand. Lego, say. Humans assess such things the way they assess anything else: through their individual world view, which changes over time. The same toddler probably won’t see the risk associated with grabbing a knife from the kitchen table or crawling over the top of a flight of stairs. Those ‘norms and behaviours’ aren’t fixed.

By extension, that doesn’t mean they won’t discover magazines later in life and really like and value them. By extension further (which is what the underlying message behind this clip is) it doesn’t mean that the same toddler/pre-school/teenager won’t grow up and value traditional media – radio, television, books and so on. People’s attitudes change. Television audiences are going up not declining. Radio has been written of for 40 years but is still as strong as ever.

The trap many fall into (and Marketing people especially) is that they think they can examine the habits and behaviours of a specific range of people and extrapolate the results to predict the future. This is nonsense. The world doesn’t work like that.

It’s possibly also worth pointing out that Marie Claire isn’t aimed at toddlers.

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