Short-Form Thoughts on the Short-Form Cartoon Network App:
When babysitting my godmother’s six and eight-year-old this weekend, I did not expect to discover a new interactive technology, especially one as interesting to write about in this post. However, I was more than surprised to see that children experience, equivalently or moreover, contact with interactive technology on a regular and everyday basis. Tablets and phones are an increasingly common way for children to consume television and cinematic content. [ How many times have you seen a child on an airplane, in a restaurant, or the like with an interactive viewing tablet in hand? I have — in fact, one too many times. ] Cartoon Network’s approach to this development, framed around the fancy term “micro-network,” is “Cartoon Network Anything.”
Both Stella and Roman were particularly attached to their tablets for the entirety of my stay. Upon observation, I realized that their attention was consumed by none other than CN’s short-form app for the ADD generation. For the remainder of the night, I decided to take a look and see what it was all about. Cartoon Network, in an effort to display its content wherever its young viewers are, has created a network that will serve non-stop streams of content (around 10-15 seconds) to tablet and mobile viewers; users can answer trivia, play games, watch videos, and, through the swipe of a finger, directly interact with the application. Technically, the program strategy is as such: the network is never “off.” Such a flow of information does offer its advantages, particularly to parents; CN’s application can deliver educational apps and books, parental guidelines can be configured, tablets are mobile, and children can truly interact with a show, instead of passively staring. But it does leave a lot of room for thought. How exactly will CN, among other content publishers, make money in a world without commercials? I imagine CN will offer “sponsorship” and advertisement opportunities to engage children while they interact within the micro-net. It makes me nervous to think that children will be the testing ground for new models of high-intensity visual content. How will this change the way children interact with technologies, as well as with each other?