Tablet Use, Penetration Still Climbing Among Gen Z

Parents aren't losing their enthusiasm for tablets: The NPD Group reports that 59% of households with a child ages 2 to 12 now own a tablet, up from 50% in the previous 12-month period. By comparison, the Consumer Electronics Association reports that overall tablet ownership is now at about 40% of online adults. 

And NPD says kids are using them in 48% of those homes, up from 38%. And almost half of the parents included in the company’s 2014 Evolution of Play report say kids are playing games on tablets more now than they were a year ago -- more than any other device.

“In some cases children not only use these devices, they are the primary owners,” says Juli Lennett, president of Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company’s toy division, in the report. “The role of technology in children’s lives cannot be overlooked, and parents recognize that, while sometimes struggling with it."

The older the child, the report finds, the more likely they are to play with electronic devices, and the less likely they are to play with traditional toys -- especially in the 10-12 range. (Children ages 2 to 5 still play with toys more.) But parents are most likely to report that they struggle against technology when kids are between 6 and 9: 37% of them believe tech cuts into traditional playtime.

In a separate report, NPD says tablets are also further transforming the fragmented way Gen Y watches TV. NPD’s Connected Intelligence division says that the majority -- 56% -- of tablet owners ages 18-34 use their tablet for TV programming-related activities. (That compares with 41% of all adult tablet owners.)

The favorite activities? Searching for something to watch (with 34% of Millennials reporting they do this); engaging with some form of social media related to the TV program (31%); and learning something more about what they’re watching (30%.) And 44% say that in the future, they would use the tablet for TV-related social media, making social their favorite way to engage.

And it looks like the Gen Y viewers love to watch cartoons as much as “Game of Thrones.” The survey, based on 3,800 consumers, finds that Nick at Nite, MTV, Showtime, Cinemax, HBO, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. or Teen Nick, Cartoon Network, Starz, the Disney Channel or Disney Jr., and ABC Family are the networks they are most likely to watch.

“Social networking is a key strategic element in the evolution of the high-profile networks this generation is viewing,” the report says. “Children’s, family, music, and premium cable networks should invest in social media strategies that complements their programming and encourages viewers to spread the word about shows they are watching.”

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