The Digital PlayGround

Kids using Electronics Devices Earlier
by: Jerry Liao

Kids are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, playing video games and using and downloading content to cell phones, computers and portable digital music players (PDMP) as young as age 2, according to The NPD Group’s new study, Kids & Digital Content, which provides insight into kids’ ages 2 through 14 usage and interaction with consumer electronic (CE) devices and the dynamics behind acquiring digital content for these devices.

While downloading games is the most prevalent activity, watching downloaded movies, television, music videos or online streaming video content has already reached upwards of 25-percent penetration with children ages 2 through 14.

According to the report, kids are spending an average of 44 minutes in one sitting playing games on a video game system, and the same amount of time listening to music on a PDMP.

Cell phones highlight the quick progression in usage of consumer electronics, with only 15-percent of 2-5 year olds using cell phones, but 62 percent using them by ages 11-14.

“Without a doubt, kids are digital content natives, seamlessly navigating between traditional and digital sources of media without missing a step,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “To kids, there is nothing new or novel about digital sources of entertainment. Whether it’s time spent on a cell phone or personal computer, listening to a PDMP or playing video games, today’s kids are more tech savvy than ever before. The real challenge for marketers is to be one step ahead of their competition, providing the content and technology kids crave.”

When it comes to downloading digital content, by the time kids are 7 years old, more than one in 10 are downloading content in some form, with 22 percent downloading at age 10 and 50 percent downloading at age 14. Three-quarters of kids with an Internet connection are using the Internet. Among those users, almost half are online and surfing the Internet without any assistance, while another one-third are surfing the Internet with their parents or someone else.

Kids’ favorite websites span from those targeted to younger kids to those that reach older kids and adults. They include Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network websites as well as MySpace and Yahoo!.

According to the report, the availability of free content does not seem to impede kids’ purchasing behavior, as evidenced by the fact that most kids are paying for each type of content. For example, 70 percent of PDMP users are paying for content; as are 55 percent of computer users, 67 percent of cell phone users and 87 percent of video game system users.

I will tend to agree with the report as more and more kids are seen on Internet cafes playing all sorts of online games. You can see kids with cellphones equipped with digital cameras and/or carrying MP3 players with them. My own kids spends countless hours on the web watching their favorite cartoon movies and anime movies using YouTube. They also download MP3 music from the Internet.

Methodology
Kids & Digital Content is based on an online survey sent to a nationally-representative sample of U.S. mothers with children ages two to 14 in their households. Qualified respondents are required to be parent/guardian of at least one child in that age range. Surrogate reporting is employed for children ages six to 14. Respondents with more than one child in the study’s age range are asked to answer the survey as it relates to only one child, via random selection. Final survey data are weighted to represent the population of children ages two to 14.

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