Study: Tablet Use for Toddlers

written by: Richard Kastelein

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Late last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics gave guidelines for young kids emphasizing that no child under age two should be using a screen device. Despite that, more than 80 percent of the apps within the education section of the iTunes app store are targeted to children ranging in age from toddler to high school, according to a study released today at the Kids@Play Summit, taking place at 2012 International CES. The study, by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, details the growth in educational apps and the opportunities for developers.

In 2007, when the iPhone made its debut, there was little doubt that it would revolutionize the mobile phone industry. However, at the time, few imagined that it would spawn a multibillion-dollar market for mobile applications (apps), and fewer imagined that this market might become a significant one for children. Yet less than Oive years later, more than a quarter of all parents have downloaded apps for their children to use (Common Sense Media, 2011). Babies have achieved virtual celebrity for mistaking a magazine for a broken iPad, children now learn to 'swipe' before they can tie their shoes, and tweens and teens coveted the iPad over any other gift this holiday season (Nielsen, 2011).

Today's children will beneOit if apps become an important force for learning and discovery. This report documents the results of an analysis of the Education category of Apple's App Store, with the goal of understanding the market dynamics, areas of innovation, and emerging opportunities within the market for apps labeled as educational. Using the original iLearn study as a benchmark for change, this updated report examines a recent sample of top-selling apps for both the iPad and the iPhone. Through our iLearn line of market research, we hope to be a resource for developers of high-quality apps that promote children's healthy development and learning; provide a publicly accessible, up-to-date, reliable and unbiased analysis; and act as a benchmark for change as the learning app market continues to evolve.

The implications for second screen engagement developers working with educational TV are simply phenomenal.You can download the PDF here.

The study reveals the promise and challenges facing families eager to incorporate technology into their play and learning. They bring much-needed perspectives to the ongoing debate where, too often, only time spent with media is considered, not how that time is spent.

"Even the youngest children can benefit from a great iPad experience," said Robin Raskin, founder, Living in Digital Times, organizers of the Kids@Play Summit. "When it comes to quality children's media, a screen is not a screen is not a screen."

Highlights of the Joan Ganz Cooney study include:

  • In 2009, almost half (47%) of the top selling apps targeted preschool or elementary-aged children. That number has increased to 72% in 2011;
  • The percentage of apps for children has risen in every age category, accompanied by a decrease in apps for adults;
  • Apps for toddlers/preschoolers are the most popular age category (58%), and experienced the greatest growth (23%).

Panels at the Kids@Play Summit will look at the bevy of new screen devices catering to young children and the e-book explosion. Sessions will focus on the opportunities for marketers and developers to create high quality content that brings out the natural inquisitiveness of young kids.

The Summit's expo is located on the exhibit floor of the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The free conference takes place in Room N256 of the LVCC. Follow along at #kidstech.

Watch this two year old dazzle with the iPad!


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