Instant gratification is a complex phrase that simply means wanting something, and wanting it RIGHT NOW. It’s not all negative – it’s okay to want and need things, but especially parents have to be extra careful if they come across such situations. We live in the age of the internet where we get and expect feedback almost instantaneously: we respond to our mails, tweets and texts only seconds after we get them; we can post videos, photos and messages as soon as we make them and also expect an immediate response from our followers and friends. There is little room for patience, especially when so many things constantly fight for our attention.
The best representation of this idea was conducted by the Stanford University as a test for children. It’s called “The Marshmallow Experiment” (and it’s adorable in its own way): children can eat one marshmallow now, or wait a bit and get two. The temptation to just eat the one NOW proved too hard to resist for some of them, but surprisingly a few managed to hold off and were rewarded.
Recently in Poland, one of the more prominent publishing houses released a series of children’s bedtime stories. The catch? It takes three minutes or less to get through one story and, as the publisher states: “because of the wonderfully colourful pictures, kids won’t get bored during reading.” But why would they be? Were we bored by H.C. Andersen’s or Brothers Grimm’ fairytales? Or do today’s kids get just that easily distracted?
We notice this on our social media, too. When we post a competition or make an announcement, we try to make the texts as concise as possible, because we often see that the longer posts aren’t read till the end. Momio for example is a vibrant place, so holding our users’ attention can be tricky with so many things happening! We also often get support mails with questions beginning with: “How to quickly get diamonds, because I want to buy a dog now”. Or we receive three or four emails from the same person in the span of 30 minutes with the exact same question. They want the answer immediately and get frustrated when they don’t. And who can blame them? Usually, everything goes exactly as they want, and if it doesn’t, they don’t bother with it.
What can we take out of it? That it’s hard work for both us and the kids! We try to reward our more patient and levelheaded users. For example, we only choose competition winners among participants who have followed the instructions. We do hope that it will spread and more kids learn that being patient and not hurrying might actually mean getting more in return. We hope that this behaviour is also encouraged outside the internet. After all, we don’t want to end up being like Dug from Pixar’s Up, right?