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The New Online Trend That Will Make You Happy
For the last six months, the soundtrack of our lives has been Pharrell's "Happy." The infectious single has triggered enthusiastic carpool singalongs and impressive DIY covers. It's hard not to smile to the lyrics: "Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth." And the hit song is more than a pop culture moment; it's an indication of a trend in kids' world: happiness!
According to Common Sense Media's study of teens and social media, more than 80 percent of teens report being happy with their lives. Nickelodeon's consumer insights team reported the same for tweens at this year's Kidscreen conference.
This news is in sharp contrast to the negative press parents hear about kids and depression, obesity, low self-esteem, and bullying. While those issues are definitely serious, it's worthwhile to acknowledge the positives in our kids' lives, too. Lots of good stuff is happening in the world of websites, video games, advertising, and social media if you know where to look. When you see examples of the happy trend in pop culture, use them as an opportunity to discuss issues that are important to you. Here are some of our favorites:
"Win" Videos on YouTube
Tweens and teens who spend time online know a lot about "fail" videos -- the clips of folks falling off skateboards, running into walls, and worse. But the Nickelodeon research team found that while kids still laugh at other people's mistakes, they actually prefer "win" clips that show folks performing amazing feats like dunking basketballs while doing a flip or creating a gigantic soap bubble with a homemade contraption.
Founded by MoveOn organizer Eli Pariser and The Onion's Peter Koechley, this viral video site is hard to avoid if you live in the word of social media. Its mission to promote social causes has found incredible success by curating and sharing videos and other content that's inspiring and hopeful. Its headlines tap into an emotional urge to feel good -- and, with millions of shares as proof -- folks seem to like that feeling. How could you resist clicking on a headline like: Meet the Girl Who Changed a Whole Lot of Lives with Something I'd Just Throw Away?
Sure, kids appreciate the TNT they can use in Minecraft to destroy carefully crafted buildings, but more often, kids are playing the hugely popular construction video game to create things. And lots of kids don't stop at making super cool structures and worlds built from their imagination; they share them, and they teach others to build cool stuff, too. This urge to make, share, and teach fits neatly into a happy world.
Coca-Cola is one of several major brands on the leading edge of the cultural trend toward happiness. Their #sharethegood campaign and the Super Bowl commercial "America Is Beautiful" both feed on a youthful urge to spread cheer and goodwill and celebrate optimism. This year's Super Bowl commercials were also notably less crass and more hopeful.
The popularity of cat videos and memes online is impressive -- and shows no sign of diminishing. In fact, the last couple of years have spawned hugely popular award ceremonies for the best cat videos. No one has nailed down exactly why people seem to love watching and re-watching kitties, but we like to think it's because they're cute (even when they're not) and there's something innocent -- and happy -- about their antics.