The majority of mobile entertainment devices used by parents and kids host less than 20 apps geared toward children, but about 7% host more than 60 apps for a child, according to The NPD Group Kids' Mobile Entertainment & Apps study released Monday.
Gaming is the most popular type of app downloaded, with the average mobile device used by a child containing approximately 10 game-related apps. Music ranked No. 2.
When it comes to overall downloads, however, music dominates and games moves to the No. 2 spot. Video steps in at No. 3.
Music makes up more than half of all downloads and about 61% of all child-related downloads to a mobile entertainment device. The remaining types of downloads, including ringtones, TV shows and movies, comprise less than 10% of all downloading activity.
Three top themes emerged in the study that keep kids coming back for more, and parents agreeing to allow the kids to download, listen to music and play games. Anita Frazier, industry analyst at The NPD Group, says these themes include the love of music, laughter to keep kids entertained, and fun and addicting applications. "Parents are more willing to pay for apps when they think their kids will use them a lot," she says.
Connecting with friends through social elements also attracts kids. "We all know you're supposed to be 13 and over to use Facebook, but all of us know plenty of kids under that age with Facebook accounts," she says. "The social aspects are appealing to many kids."
The ability to download content or listen to music at no charge continues to entice consumers, especially kids. Seventy-five percent of respondents say free is the highest motivating factor driving app downloads. Other motivators include recommendations by family and friends, the request from the child for the app, and the app's affiliation with a character or personality.
About 82% of all apps downloaded for children are free. Those who purchase apps for children say they're willing to spend almost twice as much as they do. And the willingness to spend more rises as the child increases in age.
Despite some prevailing notions that many apps are used once and then deleted or forgotten, most kids will reuse the same app many times. Only about 1% reported abandoning apps after one use. A child might spend on average slightly more than 20 minutes at a time, but this varies by gender and age, Frazier says.
Most kids use the app multiple times, rather than just once, or only a few times, Frazier says. "Parents told us their kids are using the apps 'over and over,'" she says.
Frazier says the study didn't measure whether the parent became a motivating factor to the child downloading and using the app, but NPD found that apps downloaded to devices owned by the child created more motivation compared with those downloaded to parent-owned devices.
"For devices owned by the parent, but that the child uses, 'it's educational' became a much more motivating factor" when trying to sell the kid on the application, Frazier says. Friends and family recommendations also help to motivate the child into using the application.
Final data includes 1,043 completed surveys from parents who have kids 0 to age 14 using either iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry or another smartphone. The survey was conducted between June 18 and July 28, 2010.