Which devices do kids use – and for what?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing ethnographic studies with kids to try to establish their digital habits and how we may use that knowledge to design more interfaces that takes their behavior and practice patterns into account.

As part of my research, I did a survey study with the parents of kids across Europe, the US and Canada. And while I realise that my sample size of 160 is not sufficient to establish a 100% valid foundation, I believe that it still serves as a starting point and a strong indicator of what a larger study would potentially reveal.

In the following, I will share some of the key insights from the survey for those who might find them useful.

Kids start using computers as the primary device at age 10

Up until the age of 9, kids primarily use touch screen devices, and primarily a tablet. It isn’t until the age of 10 that the computer becomes an equal player in the device field.

Table with data on the types of devices kids aged 4 to above 12 use
Kids primarily use touch tablets until they reach the age of 10

Age and hours spent with a device increases hand in hand

While the very young kids (under the age of 4) mostly spend an hour or less using digital devices (either computer, iPad og smartphone), the time consumption steadily increases with age. At the age of 12 or above, most kids in the study spent 2 hours or more on their devices.

iPad – loved by all age groups!

All age groups primarily use the iPad to watch Youtube and play games, secondarily for information search and streaming.

41% of the above the age of 6 also use the iPad to do homework. At age 10 and up, 48% use the iPad for homework.

The computer is also a homework device

The kids who use computers (which are primarily the kids above the age of 10) use it both to do homework, information search, play games and watch Youtube. Streaming is secondary usage.

Smartphones are loved amongst the kids above 12

And they use their smartphones for many of the things adults do: to watch Youtube, play games, write text messages, take photos & use social media. Streaming is secondary usage.

Kids are social

30% of the parents in the survey answered, that their kids use the device(s) together with others.

To me, the biggest surprise was probably that kids start using computers at such a late age. This is bound to have an impact on the way they perceive and use digital interfaces.

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