With “Kids and the Role of Fun,” the North cluster explores the phenomenon of humor, fun and laughter and connects these experiences to media and television.

The study discovers how kids and parents perceive fun, the things they find funny, and things they do not find funny. In addition, the study conducted an Advertising Impact to understand how humor influences the perception and effect of commercials.

Here are some of the keyfindings:

According to experts, fun can be defined as a “playful modification of reality” in which absurdity is mixed with elements of everyday life. This combination causes kids to laugh, which makes them feel good about themselves and others.

The Benefits of Laughter

Laughter has 3 main benefits:

Social: laughter brings families and friends closer together. Psycho-physical: kids retain information better when it is presented in a humorous way and feel less anxious about making mistakes in humorous situations. Health: laughter serves as an important part of the healing process since it helps kids and families relieve tension and pain

The social benefit of laughter is present in the top 3 situations that cause kids to laugh most: Playing with friends Playing with family Watching Videos/DVDs When parents were asked who makes their child laugh, the most common responses were: Friends of the child Siblings Mother Father TV characters Parents in most Northern European countries rank TV characters as the 5th thing most likely to make their kids laugh. In Poland, parents rank TV characters as the 4th thing most likely to make their kids laugh. Kids enjoy laughing more with other people than laughing alone.

Funny TV Differs Across Age Groups

6-9 year-olds mainly laugh at playful wrestling, whereas 10-13 year-olds tend to laugh more from TV programs. Despite these differences, TV represents a significant source of laughter for kids. Overall, TV is the number 1 thing that causes kids to laugh, followed by playful wrestling and pets.

TV is the Source of Fun

Kids and parents both expect TV to provide them with fun and laughter. TV shows and series best cater to this need, followed by short videos and books. Nickelodeon is seen as a channel that offers funny shows, seen especially in Spongebob Squarepants and the Penguins of Madagascar’s use of exaggerated humor to handle everyday situations.

Fun is Universal

Gender and cultural differences do not have a large impact on what kids find funny. Throughout Northern Europe boys and girls find the following funny:

  • Slapstick humor
  • Absurdities
  • Clownish humor

The same holds true for situations deemed as not funny. Overall kids of both genders and from different cultures do not laugh about pain, illnesses, and misfortunes.


Commercials are key sources of laughter for kids. Younger kids especially identify with commercials about toys. Older kids relate to advertisements about toys as well as ones aimed towards adults. Kids tend to remember commercials aired in funny contexts more than those presented in serious contexts. The intention to buy also increases as a result of viewing a commercial in a funny context. Nickelodeon provides this funny context: 70% of kids rate Nickelodeon as funny!


The study was conducted using different methodologies. Desk Research and 4 expert-interviews were used as the basis for the theoretical framework. After this, 24 qualitative interviews were conducted in Germany and the Netherlands to fine-tune the quantitative questionnaire and provide a larger context. More than 3,000 kids and parents of 6-13 year olds were then interviewed online. Data regarding commercials mainly came from the eye-tracking and Pupillometrics part of the study, which focused solely on Ad Impact.

Carlos Garcia is Sr. Director of Research & Insights for Nickelodeon International. Follow Carlos at @CGarciaConnect