Friday, February 17, 2012

Parents turn to tablets instead of TV as the modern solution for keeping kids occupied

This actually isn't news to parents, and it's already been recognized by gadget makers, but a new survey by market analytics firm Nielsen shows that parents are increasingly turning away from television and to their tablets to entertain their children.

According to the survey, in the fourth quarter of last year, seventy percent of children in tablet-owning households have managed to get their sticky, peanut butter-covered hands on their parents' tablet. That is a nine percent increase compared to Q3 of 2011.

More than three-quarters, or 77 percent of those surveyed said the dominant activity on tablets was --- no surprise --- playing downloaded games. Meanwhile, 57 percent accessed educational apps (one might have hoped the percentages had been reversed, but they were not).

The tablets were replacing handheld video games, portable DVD players, or road games to keep kids quiet in situations like traveling or dining out, with 55 percent of parents using the devices to keep their children entertained while traveling and 41 percent letting their kids horse around with tablets while in restaurants.

The survey also indicated that 43 percent of the children watched TV or movies on the tablets, so it seems that the tablets have just become a mobile way to place a TV or DVD player in front of kids, to keep them occupied.

Less one-sided, and more active behaviors, though only slightly more so, such as communicating with friends or family wasn't all that popular. Only 15 percent of children were reported to engage in this type of activity.

Now, it's recognition that folks were turning expensive tablets over to their kids that led companies like Leapfrog and V-Tech to create kid-friendly tablets (read: invulnerable and cheaper). Looking at these responses, though, it seems that what kids want to do on tablets is either play games or veg out on videos or some sort.

Essentially, the television has been replaced by tablets, whether the iPad or some Android tablet. It's a sad state of affairs, really. We let our own daughter use our iPad 2 for a short time, but then realized she was mesmerized by it, and not only that, she would throw a tantrum when it was time for bed.

Not only that, she was playing games, not doing something educational. We finally decided it was not a useful activity, since we already limited her TV viewing. It was no different than watching TV, just a way to make our lives easy while letting the child become a tablet zombie, instead of TV zombie.

It's a way for parents to get around actively parenting. Granted, parents need time for themselves, and it's another way for parents to get some free time, but is it really a good idea?

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