Digital Downloads Becoming Child’s Play

Digital Downloads Becoming Child’s Play

Children are becoming more comfortable with downloading their entertainment, as consumers of all ages are increasingly turning to digital content over hard copies of DVDs, video games and other media.

Market tracking firm NPD reports children spend around 80 cents of every dollar on physical content, while 20 cents is spent on digital downloads. NPD says the new spending is a noticeable shift towards digital from two years ago, when young people spent 85 cents of every dollar on physical content.

The shift likely represents society’s increasing use of mobile technology to play as well as work. More people now use a smartphone or tablet than a personal computer, and children are growing up using mobile devices from a very young age, so they’re comfortable with digital downloads.

Children and young teens download mostly music, which makes up nearly 75 percent of their digital content. The rest of their collections, the report said, include movies, video games, and TV shows.

Children are also becoming more likely to download their own content rather than waiting for their parents to help them, which could give security-minded parents something to consider. Nearly one-third of children download their own movies, said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

“Kids are not skittish to use technology that is available to them, and the convenience and instant gratification afforded by downloading content is alluring to them,” Frazier said. “The large increase in digital games acquisition over the last two years points to how this is becoming a more mainstream way of acquisition across all types of entertainment content.”

The report could add to companies’ marketing efforts toward young digital downloaders, as well as allow some to target content directly aimed at young people.

Earlier this year, for example, Barnes and Noble upgraded its Nook to the Android Honeycomb OS to attract more people interested in quick downloads. It invested $140 million in developing the e-reader, in a shift to digital book sales as hard-copy book sales decline.

The Nook and its competitor, Amazon’s top-selling Kindle, may incorporate the findings and add more children’s content downloads, boosting both companies’ profits. Barnes & Noble says digital content for all ages could account for $400 million in revenue this fiscal year, and it sold nearly one million e-books on Christmas Day alone a year ago.

With more children than ever downloading their own entertainment, those profits, as well as downloads on iTunes and apps for Android and Apple devices could continue to climb as well.

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