Want to know which trends will be driving kids crazy in 2018? Then you need to ask the experts – the kids themselves!
PopJam – our kid-safe, content-sharing platform for under-13s – isn’t just a moderated and creative walled garden, it’s also a window into the minds of kids. As a COPPA and GDPR compliant product we don’t collect any data on our users, but we never stop learning from them or asking for their thoughts.
At the end of December we asked kids what they thought the biggest trends of 2017 were – and here’s what they came up with.
PopJammers say slime will continue to be huge this year. The slime experience has moved on from pitiful tubs of smelly goo to watching endless hours of content on YouTube – including influencers playing with it and giving DIY tutorials. There’s so much more to learn and enjoy, and with the rise of fidget toys we know that touchable and tactile toys will continue to be popular. Slime videos also make popular ASMR videos (videos that can make people ‘tingle’ with certain actions, noises or visuals).
Unicorns are part of PopJam’s DNA. These mystical creatures bridge the gap between two things that are huge with pre-teens: animals and imagination. When we’re trying to establish what kids’ favourite animals are, unicorns are never far from the top slots (though dogs and cats are always the winners). Their real-life counterparts, narwhals, are also very popular. Unicorns are symbols of magic, confidence and happiness, but are also iconic enough to remain cool as you become a teen. Popular unicorn items include soft toys, stationery and fashion.
In 2018 it’s not just about fidget spinners, but fidget toys in general. This covers everything from fidget cubes to stress toys to tangles (or twisters, depending on where you’re from). A number of kids say they use fidget toys because they’re relaxing, and they help them concentrate. As with slime, there’s the definite trend of things that can be physically played with.
Squishies cover a range of different figures and collectibles. Big in 2017, kids love these squashy little toys. They come in a range of different sizes and themes, and some are even scented. They are tactile and fun to squish and squeeze. Sometimes called stress toys by PopJammers, they’re the perfect combination of collectible and touchable, and are easily branded or themed – from kawaii characters to cute food.
Kids always want the latest tech, or at least a better phone than the one they have access to. iPhones started being mentioned by PopJammers at the end of last year when Apple announced the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. Kids are familiar with the fanfare of regular new model releases, so see them as a safe bet as a future trend.
The results, to those who work in the industry or have kids in their lives, were not surprising. Throughout 2017 we’ve seen dabbing go mainstream, fidget spinners in nearly every shop, and slime evolve from green gunk to coveted YouTube content (unicorn glitter slime tutorial, anyone?).
Also riding high in the mentions were bottle-flipping, JoJo Bows, unicorns, squishies (collectible squashy toys with different themes and shapes) and Pokemon. A number of the trends started with kids seeing videos on YouTube – not just dabbing and bottle-flipping, but more specific content such as ‘3am Challenges’, ‘the floor is lava’, DIY tutorials and music videos (‘Juju On That Beat’ or ‘Mans Not Hot’).
Other mentions of interest include; hoverboards, make-up, gymnastics, art, tigers, ‘actual’ hoverboards, virtual reality sets, popsockets (which attach to the back of devices as a grip-aid or stand) and fuzz balls. Many of the kids were able to break down exactly what they thought the new trends of 2018 could be: a ‘weird’ new dance move, a new toy, a new fidget toy, a new meme, a new electronic device or a new movie.
The predictions about slime, fidget spinners and squishies highlight the current popularity with tactile, touchable toys. Are these really stress relief toys? Are we dealing with a generation of digital natives who are so stressed out that they need toys and gadgets to help them relax? Or is it simpler than that, and simply that kids are tactile and like to explore and play with touch?
Either way, if we trust that kids know what kids like, it’s clear which toy trends we have to look forward to this year. In a world with swipeable screens and voice command virtual assistants, perhaps it’s reassuring that kids haven’t lost the desire to be hands on.