Kids Play with Touchscreens More Than Toys

sam 0521 600x400

Given the wealth of free and inexpensive kids apps available on mobile devices, it’s only natural that today’s toddlers are growing up with touchscreens. But could mobile tech replace the traditional toy? According to a recent survey, the answer is yes.

Media research firm The Michael Cohen Group (MCG) released the results of its recent nationwide survey, which polled 350 parents about the play habits of their children 12 and younger. Touchscreen devices got the most overall playtime according to the poll, with more than 60 percent of parents claiming that their child uses a touchscreen “often” and roughly 38 percent claiming “very often.”

MORE: Best Tech Toys to Look Out For in 2014

Touchscreens beat out kids toys that have been around for decades, such as dolls and action figures, arts and crafts, and construction-based toys, all of which had a roughly 50 percent usage rate on the poll. Gaming consoles had a usage rate of a bit less than 50 percent, with other children’s staples such as vehicles, puzzles, and board games landing closer to 40 percent. 

Given these stats, is it safe to call a touchscreen a toy? The MCG poll reveals that 10 percent of parents “always” consider touch devices as playthings, while 58 percent considered them “sometimes” toys. The remaining 32 percent claimed that mobile devices should never be put in the same category as physical play products. 

When it comes to content, 53 percent of parents claimed their kids played educational games. Half of parents noted that their little ones veered toward music-based apps, while 49 percent reported “free play” games with no discrete educational value.

The popularity of touch devices among children was evident at Toy Fair 2014, but it doesn’t mean the physical toy is dead. Products like Digipuppets and Tiggly provide classic playthings such as finger puppets and shape toys, which can interact with touchscreens and include their own proprietary app. Popular mobile titles like “Angry Birds” have spawned their own physical toys called Telepods, which can attach to your smartphone or tablet to add more characters to the game.

Whether a touchscreen is actually a toy is up for debate, but the two product types are becoming more closely aligned than ever. Just make sure that before you hand off your phone or tablet, you set up parental controls and wrap it in a rugged case. 

Michael Andronico
Michael Andronico
A devout gamer and tech enthusiast, Mike Andronico joined the Laptop team in July 2013. With a B.A. in Journalism from Purchase College and experience at GameNGuide, Examiner and 2D-X, Mike tackles everything from iPhone rumors to in-depth hardware reviews.
Michael Andronico on
Facebook Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options