Oct 7, 2013
Consoles have become a staple in the family home over the past few decades.
However, Ofcom’s Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report has reported a decline in console ownership, for the first time since it begun.
In 2012 it was reported that 90% of households with children had a home or mobile console, which has dropped to 87%. Although not a staggering drop, it is still noteworthy as we live in a technology driven age.
The statistic has also dropped for children with a games console in their bedroom. This could be attributed to the rise of family gaming, such as the Wii. But also the fact that as casual gaming becomes more popular, with child friendly tablets and such becoming a mainstream concept, that kids are less inclined to want a console in their room. It is now at 47%, highest at 65% in 2009, which was a worrying fact for a while. Today’s roster of games does not appear to be child friendly, aside from Nintendo’s line-up, which may seem old fashioned to newer generations.
Most notably, was the rise of the Tablet PC. Over doubling for most age groups, it appears the devices are rapidly invading homes. The report explains the following:
Tablets are becoming the must-have device for children…
Around one quarter of children aged 12– 15 (26%) and 18% aged 8-11 have their own tablet
computer, while household ownership of a tablet has more than doubled since 2012 (51%
vs. 20%). Use of a tablet computer at home has tripled among 5-15s since 2012 (42%
vs.14%) while one-quarter (28%) of 3-4s use a tablet computer at home.
…while older children opt for smartphones…
Ownership of mobile phones among children aged 5-15 has decreased to 43%. This is a
decline of 6 percentage points since 2012, driven by a 10 percentage point decline in
ownership for 8-11s (33% vs. 43%) and a 5 percentage point decline for 12-15s (82% vs.
87%). However, smartphone ownership has remained stable for 8-11s (18%) and 12-15s
The age gap is still important to consider, with 66% of households with children aged 3-4 having consoles. This rises to 78% for 5-7, and 91% for 8-11. It’s notable that within every age category a drop has been recorded. The statistic of children playing games overall remains at 88%, but this decline in consoles and rise in other formats shows the evolving hardware, even for our youths.
So it seems gaming is as popular a hobby as ever for younger gamers. Yet where and how they game is changing constantly. The rise of violent games, and lack of child-friendly heroes on major consoles shows that gaming is becoming an adult venture. Which inevitably is also enjoyed by teens and young adults.
But tablets and portable consoles are still rife with colourful, platforming fun, with simplistic controls, perfectly suited for children. And perhaps that is where the youth are headed. Perhaps there is no longer a market for childish games on major consoles, as the price-tag and expectations of high-end titles just don’t suit platforming, or similar child-friendly game systems. There are exceptions, yet Sony and Microsoft may be losing younger audiences.