As we enter the new year, many experts in the kids and family entertainment world find themselves wondering what 2013 will bring on the ever-evolving Digital Kids™ platform. Joi Podgorny, Director of Community Engagement at Smart Bomb Interactive, provides KidsWire with insight on what she believes 2013 will bring to the market.
According to Podgorny, anything mobile, tablet or iOS related will continue to be a large market in the kids and family entertainment industry. As smartphone and tablet prices lower, the devices are infiltrating more and more houses and are becoming an easier medium for families to embrace.
She hints that a large focus for her company this year will be producing an iOS title for Animal Jam, Smart Bomb Interactive and National Geographic’s collaborative virtual playground for children. Smartbomb’s expansion to iOS and a more global market will be one of the ways the company plans to generate revenue in 2013.
In addition to continued growth on the mobile, tablet and iOS platforms, interactive toys are emerging as a new year trend in the Digital Kids market. Podgorny predicts that these toys, which integrate digital and traditional play features, will be another concept to watch in 2013. She says it will be important to observe how the line between the physical and virtual world is becoming more blurred.
“Interactivity will be big. We will start to bridge the gap between traditional and digital toys, viewing them as whole rather than two separate pieces,” Podgorny explains.
The Digital Kids industry also can’t forget about online safety and privacy along with an increased focus on parental involvement in the new year, concepts which Podgorny believes will become another large 2013 trend.
Those in the Digital Kids space will begin thinking extensively about how to reach parents. With new COPPA laws emerging, companies will partner with parents, treating them with respect as an industry, not just a brand, and considering ways to make it as easy as possible for them to get involved with their children on the digital platform.
“The new COPPA articulations have changed the digital climate. COPPA requires a level of parental engagement and involvement that many families don’t realize. Parents don’t understand how much parental consent they have to give, and new online safety and privacy articulations are going play an important role in online parenting,” she says.
COPPA amendments will not only create a focus on parental engagement, online privacy and safety in the digital space this year; they will also challenge companies to comply. As the changes go into effect this July, Podgorny highlights that “even brands for all ages are realizing they are not exempt from the new rules. There is going to be a definite focus on compliance in 2013.”
Along with stronger COPPA compliance, Podgorny is looking forward to the general excitement that she believes coming back into the industry.
“There is an upswing in the industry that I’m excited to be a part of. Most of the mass market has jumped fully on board the digital platform, and the excitement begets fun, creative products,” she remarks.
As Podgorny sees it, 2012 was the introduction year to a chunk of the mass market, which was not characterized by early adapters anymore but rather average people getting involved in new media.
“2013 will be the year where we can explore that introduction,” she says.
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