A study conducted by Nielsen found that 70 percent of children who live in households with tablet devices use those tablets. Seventy-seven percent of children use tablets to play games, while 57 percent of children use tablets for educational purposes. Nielsen also found that popular tablet uses included entertainment while traveling and watching television shows or movies.
The Gartner (News - Alert) Research Group predicts that tablets will sell 60 percent as many units as PCs by 2015 as tablet use continues to grow. Despite increasing market share for Android (News - Alert) tablets, Gartner also predicts that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market. In spite of the release of the low-cost Kindle Fire, Apple still sold 11.2 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Of course, some parents would prefer that their children not play with their expensive iPads or their Kindle Fires. For these parents, many manufacturers make tablets just for kids. Consumer Reports tested a variety of kids’ tablets and come up with several recommendations. The Fisher Price iXL tested as very popular with children 3 to 7 years of age and stood out for having a battery life of 13.7 hours. Another tablet, the LeapFrog LeapPad, was rated “Most Fun Overall,” and the VTech InnoTab was rated “Best for Games.”
The Nielsen survey found that just 15 percent of children used tablets for communicating with friends and family, meaning that the greatest use by far for the tablet was for solitary entertainment. That statistic has left some to decry the use of tablets as surrogate parenting tools. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines stating that children under two should have little or no “screen time.” The AAP has found evidence that children who spend too much time in front of screens may experience some developmental delays.
Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate schools of Education, points out that nothing can replace real-life learning. Gardner suggests walks in the woods, Tinkertoys, and visits to museums instead of tablets. “You can’t replace the human imagination,” Gardner said. “There’s no app for that.”
Jacqueline Lee is a TMCnet contributor who produces web content, blogs and articles for numerous websites including wikiHow.com. Her background is in business and education.
Edited by Jennifer Russell