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Traditional Playtime Still Relevant in a High-Tech World

Many might assume that the increased availability of technology and digital content has radically changed children's playtime and altered device usage habits and media consumption. Although this is true in some respects, many conventional pastimes--sports, reading and traditional games such as board games, jigsaws, construction toys and dolls--still represent an important aspect of many children's free time. 

United Kingdom-based research firm Futuresource Consulting gathered insight and trends concerning children's interaction with new media, activity time, education and entertainment consumption, focusing on children age three to 12 across China, Germany, the UK and the U.S.

Device Ownership
According to the study, tablet devices have overtaken the Nintendo 3DS as the most popular personal device owned by children in the UK, with 44% of children aged three to 12 owning one. Parents indicated that tablets (including both adult and dedicated children's devices) were the most likely items to be purchased for their children within the next six months; more than twice as likely to be purchased than smartphones and the latest-generation games consoles.

From the age of nine upwards, smartphones become more popular among UK children, with 25% of all nine to 10-year-olds owning one; by age 11 to 12 this has risen to 46%. Within the 11 to 12 age group, ownership by girls reaches 53%, much higher when compared to boys (38%).

Reading books is the most frequently undertaken activity by children, with 45% doing this every day across the four countries combined. When including reading a minimum of twice per week, this percentage goes up to 76%. Beyond playing sports -- which is undertaken by 72% of children at least twice a week -- traditional board games and jigsaw puzzles remain a key playtime activity, with 37% of children participating a minimum of two to three times per week.

In the UK, 39% of children are currently spending five or more hours a week playing board games and jigsaw puzzles; this compares to 63% of children playing with traditional toys (e.g., construction sets, dolls, action figures). Despite the rise in device ownership, time spent on PC/console gaming is still lower than time spent with traditional toys (five or more hours = 54%); however, this does start to change in the older age groups, with 63% of age 11 to 12 boys playing console/PC games for five or more hours per week.

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