What Makes Kids Laugh?

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It feels like the rain is never going to end here at Platypus Towers. After a soggy April, we're hoping that May will bring some sunshine! What better way to cheer ourselves up than by focussing on laughter and specifically What Makes Kids Laugh?


Finding out what makes kids laugh was the key objective of a project worked on for a childrens television show a few years back to inform the development of a weekend morning TV Show TMi. Jo Cliff, our MD cites it as one of her favourite projects.


350x400-laughing-children"It was one of my most interesting, engaging and memorable pieces of work.  I got to spend Saturdays with kids playing games, watching TV, going out to clubs, watch 
their home videos of what made them laugh and speak to them about their favourite TV shows." 


What better way to spend a Saturday!  


 

We're sure you'll agree that kids laughter is contagious, take a look at William over on the Platypus Facebook Page 
We defy you not to at least raise a little smile! Why not 'like' our page whilst you're there?


An important aspect of kids laughter is the fact that the same things are making kids laugh today that did 50 years ago (just in different guises). Scooby Doo, the chuckle Brothers, Mr Men characters, friends pulling funny faces; as popular and funny now as ever before.

As is to be expected with the advancement of technology, laughter sources are changing - You tube for example is a particularly popular method of communicating hilarious video clips (anyone seen the monkey on the back of a pig clip?).


Golden Rules of Humour!

Accidents – As long as we can identify they are not serious! Accidents tend to be unexpected, create a reaction (funny face, noise) and are not set up. 

“When Scooby Doo walked into the wall.”

Jokes ‘It’s the way ya tell em’– Dad’s jokes, cheesy jokes, the humour is often in the delivery rather than the joke itself.  Jokes, puns and riddles also allow imagination of an event that would be funny in real life and with the understanding of double meanings become a ‘play’ on words.

“Robert’s dad makes a joke out of everything.  They’re not funny but he makes him funny.”

Faces – Different/strange facial expressions especially from people known or have a connection with.

Noises – ‘Toilet humour’ and noises they can make themselves

“I sat on a whoopee cushion and it made a funny noise like a fart.”

Voices – Baby voices, impressions of people (TV characters, teachers, parents, friends), total changes of character and things unexpected e.g. giving animals voices.

Dressing up and Exaggerated Reality

emily florenceOne of the key reasons Little Britain ws so popular with kids (despite being well past the water shed!) was the fact that it had men dressed up as women but it was still obvious they were men.

Caricatures are also liked for being reality but with a twist and one reason why the Wallace and Gromit characters are so popular given their over-exaggerated facial features, voices and expressions.

Oblivious to being watched

Children find pets and babies particularly funny.  This seems to have something to do with their innocence and increased likelihood they will get themselves into a funny situation without realising they are being funny.

Also actions like, over hearing people singing in the bath, sleep walking/talking, people talking to themselves and being engrossed in something and making a silly noise or face or all equally hilarious and made even funnier by the fact the person creating the laughter is totally oblivious to the fact!

“My dog is not allowed to go on the sofa and we have these cushions with straps on and my dog got off the sofa and a cushion was hanging from his waste!”


Laughter research Robert Povine said: "Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way. Babies have the ability to laugh before they speak. Children who are born blind and deaf still retain the ability to laugh."

Want to find out how Platypus can help you with all your child, youth and family research? 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 01924 474734

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Wanted: Children of all ages

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Do you have little (and not so little) ones at home? Then we need you! Well, it’s them we need in actual fact but we’d like your help recruiting!

Platypus are a very reputable, established Yorkshire based market research agency that work within the child, youth and family market. We work with some of the biggest brands in the UK, and we’d like to connect with your kids. Our aim is to get into the hearts and minds of boys and girls aged from 8 year olds to 16 on a closed forum platform. Every week we’ll post questions or ask for opinions on things that relate to specific age groups, and we need children to join in. It’s not a hard task by any means, and they will be rewarded with vouchers to spend on music, clothes, cinema tickets etc.

We would also like them to share with us what the latest trend or craze is, what music they’re listening to, TV shows they’re watching etc. It will mean a commitment of just 1 hour per week (maximum) to jump onto the secure forum and take part.

If you think your son or daughter (or both) would be interested then please email your details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and we’ll be able to send you more information.

Many thanks, and keep checking our Facebook page for more information and offers.

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What makes kids laugh

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It feels like the rain is never going to end here at Platypus Towers.  This April has taken the term April showers to whole new levels making us all feel a bit....washed out.  So what better way to cheer ourselves up than by focussing on laughter and specifically What Makes Kids Laugh?.

What Makes Kids Laugh?

Children laugh a lot more than adults.  On average babies laugh 300 times a day compared to 20 times a day for adults.  Laughter makes us healthier, can make us more popular and helps development.   Children’s sense of humour reflects their new intellectual achievements. Humour is a form of intellectual play – play with ideas and children have a built in tendency to have fun with newly developed skills – both physical and mental. (Paul McGhee, Understanding and Promoting the Development of Children’s Humour, 2002).

Kid’s laughter is contagious.  If you disagree – watch this clip – I defy you not to at least raise a little smile.  But what is it that tickles their funny bones?  

Finding out what makes kids laugh was the key objective of a project worked on for CBBC a few years back to inform the development of the Saturday morning TV Show TMi.   It was one of my most interesting, engaging and memorable pieces of work.  I got to spend Saturdays with kids playing games, watching TV, going out to clubs, watch their home videos of what made them laugh and speak to them about their favourite TV shows.  

We have also worked on hundreds of other kids’ research projects at Platypus and have asked our Platypus mums panel to share their experiences.  From this we have identified a number of key observations and laughter themes that we wanted to share. 

An important aspect of kids laughter is the fact that the same things are making kids laugh today that did 50 years ago (just in different guises).  Scooby Doo, the Chuckle Brothers, friends pulling funny faces is as popular and funny now as ever before.  However, the means by which this humour is received is changing.  You Tube is a particularly popular method of communicating hilarious video clips (anyone seen the monkey on the back of a pig clip? one of our Mini Platypuses was in hysterics watching this.)

The first thing to note is that laughter themes change as children get older.  According to Paul McGhee* he states there are several stages:

  • Laughter at the attachment figure (6-12 or 15 months) – the earliest form of humour tends to involve things parents do as the most emotionally important person in their lives and the person whose face and features they have learned the best.  This usually takes the form of laughter at some unusual behaviour e.g. waddling like a penguin, making silly faces etc.   These are funny because infants recognise them as something different to their parent’s usual behaviours.
     
  • Treating an object as a different object (12/15 months – 3, 4, 5 years).  The concept of pretend play paves the way for humour related to using an object for something different to what was intended.
     
  • Misnaming Objects or Actions (2 – 3 or 4 years). As language develops this brings new opportunities for humour.  They begin to play with the names of things and start giving you the wrong name (e.g. calling you your proper name instead of mummy, daddy etc.)
     
  • Playing with words sounds (3 to 5 years). Children become attuned to the way words sound and begin playing with the sounds themselves often taking the form of repeating variations of a familiar word over and over e.g daddy, faddy, paddy.

  • Nonsense real world combinations (3 to 5 years)

  • Distortion of Objects, People or Animals (3 to 5 years).At this age children understand that names of objects apply to classes or categories that share certain features e.g. dogs – things that bark have fur, four legs and so on.  A new form of humour is to change any of the features that define ‘dog’ in the child’s mind e.g. adding features, (a dogs head on a man’s body), removing features (a person with no nose or ears), chaging shape, size, location of familiar things, exaggerated features, impossible behaviour e.g. cow on roller skates, dog playing a piano and singing.
     
  • Pre Riddle Transition Stage Period (5 to 6/7 years).   Starting to become interested in the humour of older children.  When they hear older kids telling jokes followed by laughter they imitate what they hear but don’t understand the double meanings and so make no sense at all e.g. “Knock-Knock. Who’s there? Piece of bread....want another piece of bread?” “What did the big car say to the little car? I’ve got a blocked up nose.” 

Above and beyond the ‘psychology’ there seem to be some golden rules of humour that will be invaluable to anyone trying to entertain what can be a difficult audience.

Belonging – Having a laugh relies on a true connection or relationship with a person or thing.  This type of humour is tends to be generated by real life situations. 

Accidents – As long as we can identify they are not serious! Accidents tend to be unexpected, create a reaction (funny face, noise) and are not set up. 

“When Scooby Doo walked into the wall.”

 

Jokes ‘It’s the way ya tell em’– Dad’s jokes, cheesy jokes, the humour is often in the delivery rather than the joke itself.  Jokes, puns and riddles also allow imagination of an event that would be funny in real life and with the understanding of double meanings become a ‘play’ on words.

“Robert’s dad makes a joke out of everything.  They’re not funny but he makes him funny.”

 

Faces – Different/strange facial expressions especially from people known or have a connection with.

Noises – ‘Toilet humour’ and noises they can make themselves

“I sat on a whoopee cushion and it made a funny noise like a fart.”

Voices – Baby voices, impressions of people (TV characters, teachers, parents, friends), total changes of character and things unexpected e.g. giving animals voices.

Dressing up and Exaggerated Reality

One of the key reasons Little Britain was so popular with kids (despite being well past the water shed!) was the fact that it had men dressed up as women but it was still obvious they were men.

Caricatures are also liked for being reality but with a twist and one reason why the Wallace and Gromit characters are so popular given their over-exaggerated facial features, voices and expressions.

Oblivious to being watched

Children find pets and babies particularly funny.  This seems to have something to do with their innocence and increased likelihood they will get themselves into a funny situation without realising they are being funny.

Also actions like, over hearing people singing in the bath, sleep walking/talking, people talking to themselves and being engrossed in something and making a silly noise or face or all equally hilarious and made even funnier by the fact the person creating the laughter is totally oblivious to the fact!

“My dog is not allowed to go on the sofa and we have these cushions with straps on and my dog got off the sofa and a cushion was hanging from his waist!”

Laughter research Robert Povine said: Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way. Babies have the ability to laugh before they speak. Children who are born blind and deaf still retain the ability to laugh.

One thing is for certain, there is nothing like the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from sharing a moment with your child when no one else in the world knows what you're laughing at......and neither do you!

Laughter Factoids

  • Recent research shows that people in a light-hearted mood more often have eureka moments of sudden inspiration. (Karuna Subramaniam, Northwestern University)
  • We are 50percent more likely to laugh when speaking than when listening. Robert Provine
  • We are 30 times gigglier in a social setting than when alone.  Robert Provine
  • It has been found that Chimpanzees laugh when tickled and even rats have been found to ‘laugh’ (although not in the same way humans do!) when in a happy mood!


Sources:

Robert Provine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

Wikipedia

Paul McGhee, www.laughter remedy.com

Jo Cliff, Platypus Research

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Education - University vs. Apprenticeships

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So University or another route?  It's a daunting dilemma many teens face when approaching the end of college.  While most are involved with UCAS applications and deciding what University course they want to do, some are left frantically trying to make sense of it all, and what their future holds.  

It is almost tradition for most students to go straight to University after college.  But what about those who question the value of University?  

Apprenticeships are commonly thought of as plumbers, electricians and engineers or generally anything that doesn't  necessarily require more than a few GCSE's.  We've found out, however, that this isn't the case.  There are a number of apprenticeships out there which lead to a specialised job. The lack of knowledge of what is available leads to teens questioning their options. 

We have some views from people who've been through this, and they wanted to share their thoughts on the matter:

Matt - I was left feeling unsure about what realistic alternatives were out there. I was under the impression that apprenticeships were all about plumbers and electricians. The careers advisors weren’t helpful at all. I was originally going to go to University, but began to speculate on better alternatives.  I found a number of good chances through my own research. I wanted to pursue Web Development and gain entry into a company to gain valued experience.

Now, Digital agencies and the area of Web Development is not something commonly thought of to be available as an apprenticeship. I think my case is a good example of what varieties of choice companies out there want to offer an apprentice. In my opinion, I value this higher than University, simply due to the fact that by the time a student has graduated, I’ll have 3 – 4 years of industry experience under my belt, recognised NVQ qualifications which can be used for University entry, and I’ll have kick started my career in my chosen industry instead of being left with a big debt, and a degree and not being able to get a job.

I think that degrees are becoming so common these days that they are beginning to lose their credibility, especially with some of the subjects that you can now attain a degree in.  I can learn all the skills I would learn while studying for a degree on my apprenticeship, while actually putting them into practice in the work place on client projects.  You can’t get that experience anywhere else.  46% of graduates are expected not to get jobs they want, and jobs that aren't in any way related to their degree.  That's quite a shocking statistic to me, so I think myself lucky to be where I am!


Sam - I left college and decided not to go to University.  I think that in the long run it wasn’t worth getting all the debt for a commonly obtained degree.  While both going to Uni or following an apprenticeship provide valuable life skills, these skills often differ massively.  Going to Uni, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it.  The inherent costs and time involved with it means that it's not a decision you should take lightly.  I personally don't feel that going to Uni is worth the time or effort if you don't have a definite idea of the profession you want to follow.

Apprenticeships were often seen as the route to take for those that haven't always achieved fantastic grades.  While it's potentially true, however recent ones that have come up prove that there’s such a broad spectrum of apprenticeships, so it seems like another valuable way to start your career.  The life skills and work experience you pick up within an apprenticeship scheme is invaluable.  Uni graduates often don't have anything to fall back on if their chosen path doesn't go as planned; this isn't too much of an issue for those taking an apprenticeship.


Most apprenticeships often pay and recognise your value, which is a nice bonus.

Platypus has a vast knowledge of this sector. Get in touch with your next brief to see how the experts would approach and deliver against your research objectives. You can either email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact the team on 01924 474734




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Does Facebook mean we talk less?

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Christmas wish lists of 2011 (for adults and children alike) were dominated with Xbox 360, Kinect Live, PS3, iPads (1 &2) - it's fair to say that technology was by far the front runner. Whilst this is not necessarily unusual and in many households expected, it did get the team here thinking about how and if  we still communicate as families.

The following conversation happened in a friends house;

Mum (shouting):Daniel, your tea is ready.

Son: Be down in a minute.

15 minutes later

Mum: Daniel, your tea is getting cold.

Daniel: Alright, be there in a second.

True to teenage form he eventually  surfaced. The difference here was that the conversation took place over Facebook messenger. Mum had tried shouting and got nowhere so gave in and jumped onto the iPad & messaged her son - finally she got a response.

So does this mean we speak to each other less? We did a mini-survey on Linkedin and the results actually showed that whilst social networking sites are great for keeping in touch with distant family, it can also enhance relationships with your children as you're communicating with them on their level and platforms that they understand.

http://goo.gl/49GM4

We'd be interested to hear your views on this, please feel free to leave your comments below.

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