By ; Nelly Ali
During what has been a content-rich summer, children have shown significant interest in viral memes about Area 51, according to Kaspersky’s annual summer report into kids’ online safety. Area 51 is commonly believed to be a research facility where the American government is rumored to be studying creatures from outer space. In an attempt to see the aliens, adults even went as far as creating a special Facebook event. “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” reads the event description.
One of the most noticeable events of summer 2019 was a comic plan to stage an assault on the Nevada, USA military base "Area 51". Over the years, it has been widely noted in popular culture as a UFO research center, run by the US air force in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Area 51 references have appeared in many films, including Independence Day and Paul. The phenomenon has also inspired television show episodes, such as stories from The Twilight Zone and The X-Files.
This summer, more than one and a half million people signed up for the ‘’Storm Area 51” event on Facebook. The purpose of the event was supposedly to access a secret location at the base and finally find out if aliens are being kept in Area 51. Furthermore, a party ahead of the event has even been arranged.
Perhaps what is more interesting though is that children also became passionate about those online discussions. The popularity of the event has prompted a flood of memes, and a high proportion of children who go online were looking for them.
In fact, about 12% of all meme search requests this summer were related to Area 51, thereby making it the most popular and highly discussed among children, according to the report. One-in-ten children are interested in memes connected with the Area 51 phenomenon. Related to the queries about Area 51, children also searched for “area 51 coordinates”, “area 51 ufo”, “storm area 51”, “area 51 raid sign up” and “area 51 aliens”. Among other popular memes this summer were “grumpy cat” and “Ricardo milos” with four percent and three percent of all meme search requests respectively.
The information about this summer’s most popular memes among kids is based on anonymized statistics from Kaspersky’s products with parental control functionality. This protects children from harmful content online and allows parents to have better visibility over what their kids are encountering while using the web.
“Memes today are an important part of internet culture. This summer we have seen that children are interested in funny memes and events, like ‘Storm Area 51’, and are trying to learn something new. The ability to understand trending memes is a great way for parents to better understand what their children are interested in on the internet. This knowledge about kids’ online interests helps to avoid situations when a child may stumble on inappropriate content while surfing the internet. So, we strongly recommend that parents master this skill”, comments Anna Larkina, web content analysis expert at Kaspersky.