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NPD: More Kids Playing Games, PC Play Dominates

A new NPD survey titled "Kids & Gaming" found that U.S. children are spending more time playing video games today than they did one year ago, particularly online, with PC gaming singled out with the longest general lifecycle, albeit with some disparity be
A new NPD survey titled "Kids & Gaming" found that kids of all ages in the United States are spending more time playing video games today than they did one year ago. According to the NPD Group, this trend is particularly pronounced for online game play. According to the report, PCs are the dominant platform for kids playing games in all age groups. The survey also found that the average child starts to use a PC for gaming by the age of 6 and continuing on to age 17, making it the platform used for kids' gaming for the most years. The study analyzed the dynamics of kids ages 2 to 17 in the video gaming space in the hopes of providing insight into system ownership and use, distribution of time, genres, sources of information for finding out about new games, purchase dynamics, parental involvement, and more. According to the report, the average child's gaming lifecycle starts with kid-oriented systems, moves into PCs for gaming, and continues with Plug & Play and the more established gaming systems. Then, at about age 10, cell phone gaming begins, and the gaming lifecycle culminates with Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable, and the three next-generation consoles, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. The survey found that half of all kid gamers are "light users," clocking five hours a week or less, with the other half of the respondents comprised of medium, heavy or "super" users, at 6 to 16 more hours per week. The survey also found that more boys play video game consoles, while girls are more likely to play on PCs, cell phones and kid-oriented gaming products. Additionally, the report indicates that girls seem to "fall off the gaming wagon" later in life, while more boys move on from kid-focused gaming into console use. Other statistics in the report focused on online games; kids ages 2 to 17 play games online 39 percent of the time, with the average time spent playing online statistically higher among females, kids 15 to 17, and the "super users", at least until the girls get older and their rate of play begins to decline. Moreover, the survey found that 91 percent of online gaming among kids ages 2 to 17 is free; of the 9 percent that pay to play, these kids are more likely to hail from higher income households. In addition, the likelihood of a child to pay for games increases along with the child's age and time spent on gaming. NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier says, “When kids get to the 6 to 8 year-old age range is when we see them turn into more serious gamers. Not only does the amount of time they spend playing games increase the most dramatically, but they migrate from using ‘kid’ systems to using more portable and console systems as well. This appears to be a critical age at which to capture the future gamers of the world.”

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