Report: Tablets shut kids up

Faith Merino · February 16, 2012 · Short URL:

Nielsen finds 55% of parents keep their kids quiet in the car with tablets, and more

Tablets make great babysitters. They’re not always talking on the phone and eating all your food.

These findings of basically what we sort of already know came from a report released Thursday by Nielsen.

In a survey of tablet-owning households with children under the age of 12, Nielsen found that a full 70% of those children have used a tablet in Q4 2011, marking a 9% increase over Q3.  And what are those kids doing on their parents’ tablets?  Well, they’re not talking to their parents.  Seriously.  The survey found that a slim 15% of kids in tablet-owning households are actually using those tablets to communicate with friends and family, making it the least popular activity.

You know what’s more fun than talking to your parents?  Playing games.  Of the kids who play with tablets, 77% are using them to play games.  A slightly smaller cohort—57%—are using the tablets to tinker with educational apps.

But when you hand your tablet over to your slimy toddler, it’s not really because you want to stimulate his little brain or nurture his grasp of gadgetry.  You do it to shut him up for a few minutes.  Thus, it comes as no surprise that 55% of parents surveyed said they let their kids play with tablets while traveling, and 41% said they give their kids tablets to keep them busy in restaurants.

Kids and gadgets seem like an unlikely duo, but parents are surprisingly willing to let their young children play with their smartphones, tablets, and other devices.  A report published by BlogHER and Parenting Group last August found that 25% of the 1,000 moms surveyed said they had, at some time or another, let their child play with their smartphone before the age of two.

The survey found that among all electronic devices, from hand-held gaming devices and digital cameras to smartphones and laptops, Generation Y moms (those born after 1980) were more likely to say that their child had used the device before the age of two than Generation X moms (those born between the late 1960s and 1980).  Where smartphones were concerned, 33% of Gen Y moms said their toddler had played with one, compared to just 20% of Gen X moms.  Similarly, 30% of Gen Y moms said that their toddler has used a digital camera, compared to 18% of Gen X moms. 

The trend among tablets is sure to rise with the increase in tablet ownership, which nearly doubled to 19% in early January from 10% in mid-December, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.  By comparison, in September 2010, only 4% of adults owned tablets.  I foresee many more children playing with tablets in restaurants in the near future…


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