Kids to Spur Tablet Growth

Parents who have a tablet often hand it over to the kids, Nielsen reports, underscoring a chance for tablet makers to widen their devices’ appeal.

Nearly 70 percent of children in households with tablets use the devices, a report from research firm Nielsen reveals. Kids use tablets in many ways, both at home and while traveling. About three quarters of kids who use tablets play games on the mobile computers, and over half use them for learning.

Tablet makers that hone in on the educational and entertainment potential of tablets could widen their appeal and increase sales as they reap a whole new segment of the market.

Children represent a relatively untapped market for both the tablets themselves and the specially created books, apps, games and entertainment children enjoy on the devices. Tablet makers who increase their child-friendly appeal could boost customer loyalty among parents and widen the audience for software, services, and entertainment partnerships.

Tablets especially represent an opportunity to reach children with both entertainment and educational offerings. Apple is already at the forefront of the educational market with its recently unveiled iBooks 2 initiative and a planned expansion into the education market.

Apple is reinventing easily worn, heavy textbooks with interactive versions that feature multi-touch capabilities, embedded videos and built-in quizzes that provide instant feedback to young learners, and there is evidence tablet-assisted learning benefits a new generation of students.

A pilot study using an iPad-based Algebra 1 curriculum showed students learned better with e-textbooks than traditional paper ones, and that the iPad version helped students score higher on standardized tests.

E-learning on a tablet appeals to a generation exposed to technology nearly since birth, and provides a platform for tablet makers to combine technology’s appeal with real learning opportunities.

Tablet-based learning materials could also appeal to parents looking for a way to motivate students to study and do their homework, as well as provide a way for parents and children to work together to reinforce classroom lessons at home.

Even young children can take advantage of tablets, especially as new offerings combine learning and entertainment. Last year, a children’s book created as an iPad app, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” rose to number-one in books and number-two in paid apps in Apple’s App Store, underscoring a growing market for interactive, multimedia offerings that appeal to kids.

Offerings like this engage children with reading and help them interact with reading material on a deep level. Kids can enjoy e-books on their own, manipulating words and pictures and experimenting with narration and background music to create their own adventure. Or, they can sit back to read aloud on a tablet with their favorite grownup.

The children’s market is a growing opportunity for iPad competitors as well. Amazon is closely integrating its Kindle Fire tablet with the services and offerings the company made its name providing, such as books, movies, music and television shows.

Many parents shop for children’s books and videos via Amazon. If the Kindle maker can capitalize on that reputation to encourage parents to choose its tablet to offer that same value to their children, it could put pressure on Apple’s tablet among consumers looking for a good device to share with young children. Low-cost tablets like the Fire also prove ideal entries for young technology users, bringing in another audience for companies like Amazon to cater towards.

Tablets designed especially for kids will also likely make a showing in the field. An Android tablet for babies, the Rullingnet VINCI Tab, features pre-loaded educational games and is sturdy enough to handle a toddler’s abuse.

Toddler tablets often lack a wireless connection to keep babies safe from the outside world and parents safe from expanding data bills, but they ready the youngest members of the mobile generation to join the tablet craze, news tablet makers are sure to welcome.

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