The Voice of Tween Engagement
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Post-millennial tweens (9-13 year olds) are considered one of the most exciting and influential youth generations in history. They spend hours online, sourcing, creating and sharing content across multiple platforms. They have increasingly discarded scheduled television viewing, replacing it with YouTube (Rideout, Ulla, & Roberts, 2010) and other social media sources. For New Zealand tweens this means more foreign content is being consumed than ever before and local stories are increasingly more difficult to discover. At a time when New Zealand tweens are developing their own identities, and a sense of self and place in the world they need local stories (Götz, 2016; Zanker, 2013). However, there aren’t enough local stories being developed for this age group. When tweens are already proficient in developing and sharing user-made content, a solution to the paucity of local stories could be as simple as including them in the creative process. My practice-based research explores how tweens can be part of the creative process using transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling reveals multiple narrative perspectives, across several platforms, often encouraging audience interaction and participation. Qualitative data I collected from a sample tween audience informed a transmedia story that was then shaped and refined by the sample audience’s feedback and ideas. My research explored the benefits of this process, identifying how helpful having a tween insight is, not only to the story development but also to the selection of distribution platforms and audience interactivity mechanisms. Through my work I demonstrate that transmedia storytelling, informed by a tween audience, offers a process for local content creation that can reach tweens with stories they like, on platforms they use and in ways the prefer. Local stories created this way will be more likely to be discovered by tweens, be relevant and engaging and more likely to be shared by tweens.