Study finds children gaming nearly as much on mobile as console

Results of NPD's Kids and Gaming 2013 report finds the way children ages 2-17 are playing games has shifted significantly since 2011.

According to a new study published this week by The NPD Group, children are playing games nearly as much on mobile devices as they are through traditional consoles. According to Kids and Gaming 2013, play behavior for children ages 2-17 has shifted significantly since 2011.

More than half (53 percent) of mobile device users reported that they spent more time playing on these devices this year compared to last year. The boost is most pronounced among children 12-17, who were found to spend an average of seven hours per week on mobile devices compared to five hours per week in 2011.

"Kids are engaged with mobile devices as less expensive tablets and an increasing amount of hand-me-down phones create greater accessibility to these platforms than before," NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement.

Though desktop computers, laptops, and consoles remain the top devices for gaming, "almost" as many children are playing on mobile devices as they are on consoles and computers, according to the study. In addition, it found that children are starting to play games on mobile devices at a younger age than in prior years (age 8 in 2012 vs. age 9 in 2011). This starting age is expected to continue trending downward, the research group said.

"The question becomes whether this mobile usage will continue to grow for 2 to 17 year olds, and if usage will become more prevalent than gaming on consoles and computers as time progresses," Callahan said. "More importantly, we need to understand how these forms of gaming provide different types of experiences for young gamers."

The Kids and Gaming 2013 study is based on the results of an online survey fielded from June 26-July 18 this year. It incorporates data from 3,842 children ages 2-17 who currently play games on any device.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

315 comments
ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

Simple answer. If it can play games then children and teens will play them. It could be a basic almost boring game or a well known series. It makes no difference to them and since just about everyone owns a smart phone these days it only makes sense that people would use it to play games. Especially since it offers the user the ability to download free games.

farcorners
farcorners

It's called travelling on the bus.

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

I wouldn't mind all this iOS gaming if there was some form of content control, kids get taken advantage of on this stuff way too easily.

Zoza24
Zoza24

Children pretty much discovering the joy and pleasure of gaming while older gamers like us are very critical and opinionated about the games we play.


Since i was a kid and received my very first Nintendo console, my addiction to gaming became ridiculous..

bradypp
bradypp

Well obviously, they're the casual gamers. It's when they get older they'll move on to consoles/computers; they won't be playing temple run and angry birds all their lives.

chris230990
chris230990

Only because every child/bored adult plays Angry Birds... more saturation incoming.

nurnberg
nurnberg

IMO traditional gaming will never die completely.  Maybe a few companies will go bankrupt, but the demand for real gaming will stay strong.

Kingfish1982
Kingfish1982

CEO:  "OMG! We need another mindless running game and gimmicky puzzler now!"

Gamer:  "Actually, all that happened is more kids have smart phones now so more kids play games on them, but real gamers still want real games for console and PC."

CEO:  "No the touch screen games are taking over, that's the new trend!"

Gamer:  (face-palm!)




Manatassix
Manatassix

 I think some people are missing the fact that the numbers of people playing bigger budget games aren't going down. Its pretty obvious that as the games on iOS and Android get better obviously more people will play them.

This is a good thing, it just means that phones are finally viable places to play games. It certainly doesn't mean they are taking the place of the consoles and PC. Its an additive rather than subtractive element thats being brought to the games industry as it continues to diversify and expand into new and interesting areas.

lee1823
lee1823

2-17? how accurate is this gonna be? I don't know many 2 year olds with PS4 on preorder.

When will the industry realise that they are two very different markets and stop comparing them? I have a great smartphone. The novelty of gaming on it wore off about a month after I got it as the controls are awful for anything but puzzle games and every game just feels like a tech demo with no real substance and last 2hrs if that. 

That's my opinion anyhow. 

fscobie
fscobie

This seems obvious...but it's not really indicative to a change in taste...you simply have more access to mobile devices at more times of the day than you do on a traditional gaming platform.

If a kid plays angry birds on his/her phone while being a passenger in the car or while running errands with his Mom (for example) does this means he/she is choosing angry birds over a high production value console game?  The answer is no, he/she is simply passing time on what's available.  


cuttingcorners
cuttingcorners

I cannot stand mobile games... when friends or family show me them, i have to say no... they think they are relating to me because i play video games. The games are way to shallow. 

I'd rather play dark souls, or study. 

dkeppens
dkeppens

The keyword here is children

tightwad34
tightwad34

Am I really supposed to be surprised? All I can say is meh, and I could have told you that.

johnaom
johnaom

kids can not play game the game will make the kid rage and so on and also cod look bad because of that

nyzma23
nyzma23

my son love playing rayman and halo spartan assault on my surface pro using xbox controller

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

 @nousername66 Most kids today wanted to play games that are simple to learn for their small hands and simple enough to understand with their learning minds. But, if they will be exposed to more complex games, such as strategy games, early on, they will undoubtedly become more intelligent people of the future.

arqe
arqe

Hmm which category i belong in ?

Playing with High End PC almost 5 hour a day since im working , aswell as console with friends and almost same amount of time on iPad ...

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

im filing this under "duh". ask them if they consider mobile gaming and console gaming as the same thing

ziqi92
ziqi92

No shit. How else do parents keep their kids entertained these days when they're on the go?

nousername66
nousername66

This is not surprising, kids are getting dumber and dumber. Angry Birds? Seriously? It's for simpletons.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

" we need to understand how these forms of gaming provide different types of experiences for young gamers"

Well I'd guess it's something to do with being able to play them while in class?

Apathy4Marmite
Apathy4Marmite

A friend of mine recently bought a £300 BlackBerry for his son's 10th birthday, who promptly accused his dad of 'taking liberties' when he wasn't allowed to open it after staying up until midnight.

If children with £300 phones and mobile gaming is the future... I'm worried for both humanity and my hobby.

hystavito
hystavito

"This starting age is expected to continue trending downward, the research group said."  

This will be a problem for Nintendo in the coming years.  They are loosing the kids/family market to mobile, and there are only so many older diehard Nintendo fans.

Articuno76
Articuno76

Does the study take into account that a lot of those hours might simply be logged during commutes to and from school, where before the kids would just listen to music or read a book (or do nothing)?


Raymond11
Raymond11

Mobile game is not really gamers since you have less interactive with other players and yeah they are free. Mobile game all you have to do is touch the screen, it like press one or two buttom

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

Sadly true. All my nieces and nephews are constantly gaming on their rents' iPads.

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

Maybe the excessive motion crap and overly expensive crap is pushing them to mobile.  I know I've seen jrpgs on android that make me want them just because it calls back to the snes jrpgs. 

murderusone
murderusone

Let me emphasize on what I think is really cool about tablet and touchscreen phone devices.  I have a two year old child who can identify and name every single letter of the alphabet.  She can also beat me in a game of "Memory" almost every time we play.  She is also very good with hand-eye coordination type games as well.  She has a superb vocabulary, and can also navigate tablets and phones better than most adults.  She loves photography, and is also quite masterful at this for her age.  

I guess what I am trying to say is that devices such as this seem to speed up the learning process for young children, especially toddlers.  Science has proven that humans learn at an ultra-fast rate until they reach age nine, and that the brain is designed to imprint things learned during this period permanently into the brain.  For example, bilingual or trilingual children have no problem speaking multiple languages with ease because they learned these languages at a very young age.  It is natural to them.  Not so easy when you are in high school to learn a new language in a year.

I love consoles for gamng the way I want to game, but I recommend a tablet for any toddler to speed up the learning process.  It truly works!  I know!!

manicguy
manicguy

I really hope that mobile gaming is not the future... (like kinect and motion crap)

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

@Zoza24 The difference being your Nintendo console having actual games, 90% of the games on the ipad are shovelware and soundboards. 

rolla020980
rolla020980

@Kingfish1982 

Kid: Daddy, I want to play (Insert Kid game here).

Dad: No, honey. Daddy's watching the Browns lose again.

Kid: But But But... (starts crying).

Dad: Here, take my phone and go in the other room.

There's why your touch screen gaming is growing.

cirugo
cirugo

@Manatassix  

I will never, ever embrace a vision of gaming that is focused on a screen smaller than my PC monitor.

Ever.

Manatassix
Manatassix

@PeejayYeh hmm actually thats a flawed argument the methods of interaction children use becoming more varied and the proliferation of games outside the traditional TV space, all contribute to encouraging a diverse skill-set and a more flexible learning environment for children.

Universally parental interaction in learning processes is a much more significant contributing factor and smartphone games are an excellent method to facilitate that in my opinion.

Manatassix
Manatassix

@arqe Id put you in the category of 'enthusiast with a healthy interest in a diverse range of experiences and tastes' which is a good thing in my opinion :P

edited for grammar 

Kickable
Kickable

@arqe category cash cow.  for the gaming and possibly even the mental/physical health industry in the future :P

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

@ziqi92 Maybe a 3ds or Vita? Hell I know my GBC kept me quite for hours at a time.

Manatassix
Manatassix

@nousername66 completely untrue. It may require a different intellectual skill-set than the one you value but simple coordination and planing puzzles like angry birds are very good tools for teaching younger children basic skills. 

Manatassix
Manatassix

@Rayzakk Pushing them to mobile from where? 

"Though desktop computers, laptops, and consoles remain the top devices for gaming, "almost" as many children are playing on mobile devices as they are on consoles and computers, according to the study. In addition, it found that children are starting to play games on mobile devices at a younger age than in prior years (age 8 in 2012 vs. age 9 in 2011). This starting age is expected to continue trending downward, the research group said."

you seem to have missed that they aren't playing mobile INSTEAD of other gaming platforms. Thats not what the study was about. Children are playing mobile games more than they used to play mobile games. 

Its a bit self evident but if they don't correlate these trends then they wont have that data to use in further research. otherwise this study isn't particularly groundbreaking news.

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

@murderusone But, attitude and perspective in life are things that cannot be taught by these devices. Family ties are still needed to teach aspects for human identity growth. ;D

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

@murderusone What kills me is when in education they equate being able to use those devices as a sign children are smarter than adults.  At least I've heard that espoused in at least one elementary school. 

Manatassix
Manatassix

@manicguy 

Diversity of experiences across the medium is the future. 

"Games" becoming so diverse that the term game poorly encapsulates how different many of the experiences in the medium actually are. 

Games by their very nature encapsulate so many aspects from almost every other art form making them potentially one of the most flexible mediums for artistic expression, learning and communication we have at our disposal. 

This is the future. 

those are the only trends being indicated in this study :)

arqe
arqe

@Kickable Forgot the add , i get high quality games on iPad when they are free for 1 or 2 days for promotion never paid an application yet , aw sorry did 1 accidently. i just clicked on AC / DC HD Pinball and it just took my 5$. Didnt even asked because my credit card info was in the iPad :)

Also never pay for a Steam / Origin / uPlay game full price. Just make "cheap cd-key" kinda search and voila 60$ game on steam becomes 20$ instantly even at launch week.

murderusone
murderusone

@Rayzakk @murderusone 

There is no substitute for human-to-human interaction when learning.  These devices are merely tools, and should be used as such.  They are, however, excellent tools when used properly.

Kickable
Kickable

@arqe @Kickable ok then a physically and psychologically stunted mess with enough money to buy the meds that you'll be told you need to fix yourself.