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When hip-hop superstar Pharrell Williams (of the Neptunes and N.E.R.D.) took a hard look at the teen media landscape, he saw a black hole in terms of resources that respect kids' intelligent interest in the real world. So Williams created a brand new site: Kidult.com, which he describes as a "reliable news source that speaks directly to teenagers." On Kidult, teens can find real news and information about current events, politics, science, entertainment, health, sports, gaming, cool jobs and fashion. Pharrell is also promoting the Kidult Youth Leadership Conference, scheduled for June 26 in New York.
What Kidult does -- and most teen community and content sites don't -- is focus on real headlines, not just Lady Gaga's favorite recipes or the latest trends in torn-up jeans. As I write this, Kidult.com is reporting on illegal government wiretapping, the Moscow subway bombing, and subsiding violence in Newark, New Jersey.
Naturally, the site's entertainment articles are very popular, but also labeled as "most viewed" are stories about the Phoebe Prince case, a 13-year-old prodigy suing his college for age discrimination and the iPad release. This illustrates that kids are, at the very least, interested in current events that directly affect them or their peers. (My only qualm is the more-clever-than-cool name "Kidult" -- most teens don't like to be called "kids," even in a mashup.)
News for kids is typically buried on non-school kid Web sites, if it's addressed at all. Nick News has its own site, but don't bother searching for it on the Nick.com homepage. And Nick News looks like CNN when compared to MTV's news page. Meanwhile, news stories of strong interest and ramification to teens -- like the Constance McMillen prom story -- go completely ignored by their own media.
So it's encouraging and refreshing to see see Williams -- and Nick Cannon's HALO Awards -- celebrating teens who transcend their own stereotype. This is what real dedication looks like, not just "frontin."
Are Real Kids Into Real News?
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Do you think teenagers are interested in real news? Chime in below!