All good media is interactive
One of the advantages those in interactive media have is that they go in knowing their interactive media is exactly that: interactive. They consider the experience and the desired outcomes. For example, at this point we want children to tap over here and swipe this part down. The children are an integral part of this thought process from day one because ultimately they are the ones who have to make the media work. If the children fail to understand it, if they fail to be motivated enough to continue being part of that experience, the entire endeavour fails.
What is so often missed by people in other forms of media is that, for young kids, it can all be interactive. It all should be interactive. The best content will make children a part of the experience. They are directly involved.
For this to happen, like in interactive media, you have to consider the experience and the desired outcomes. It is not as simple as: I will tell a story and the children will listen or watch. In reality that approach often becomes more about the “I”, the desires of the storyteller, than the actual audience. Audience awareness is everything.
So instead, this is about considering the effect of each part of your story/content/media. For example, at this point we want children to laugh but then listen to the next line, which is key to engaging them at a later part in our story. Rather than just writing a joke followed by your important line, you’re now thinking about the experience and you know you have to build in time, some other beat or even a direct request for the children to pay attention before that important line. You begin thinking about each individual element and the desired effect. If I set this scene in a playground, most children will be engaged by a familiar experience. If I set this scene on Ayer’s Rock, my audience doesn’t have a pre-existing frame of reference. Each decision is motivated not by what you want to make but by the experience you want the children to have.
Your content has to engage. It has to be simple, clear, entertaining and children should feel part of that experience.
So when you’re reviewing your work or scripts or storyboards that come in, don’t just picture the scenes playing out. Picture the audience. Picture their experience at each section. Are they paying attention? Are they laughing? Did they just jump off the sofa? Did they repeat a line back at the screen? Are they singing along? Most importantly, are they still a part of the experience?
Remember that it’s like interactive media: if the children fail to understand it, if they fail to be motivated enough to continue being part of that experience, the entire endeavour fails.