Kids, Apps and Tablets…It’s a Family Affair!

With the year drawing to a close, the tech media seems to be abuzz with news centering on tablets, kids and apps. This Christmas has been declared by tablet news hub TabTimes to be the first ‘Tablet Christmas’, and if their predictions are correct, it’s not hard to see how that wouldn’t be a fitting moniker.

The CEA recently estimated that tablets will outsell TVs and digital cameras combined over the Christmas period, almost single-handedly reviving a flagging PC market in the process, while another report puts tablet sales up by 1,000% on British shores.

Admittedly, they’re covering this trend from for the UK market, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see how big tablets are going to be in the US this year too. Why? Well, both media and hardware companies companies have figured out how to mix apps and kids, with both receiving benefit. Tablets have moved beyond being the cool accessory of tech-savvy hipster crowd to a key part of media consumption and learning. It’s no longer a luxury, but now a necessity for families and those serving this market segment. Whether it’s a North Carolina school which will be using a $30M federal grant to buy 17,000 iPads, or Nickelodeon using apps to market-test characters and concepts for upcoming television shows. One company which consistently nails it for this group is Toca Boca, developer of many of my daughter’s favorites. Toca Boca grew from a long-research effort by Swedish publisher Bonnier into how media could work on a touchscreen.

After the iPad’s launch, [CEO Bjorn] Jeffery says they realized some of their earlier ideas were right, and others were a bit off. But what stuck out the most was the way the iPad was being brought into family homes and shared. “We thought it would be very interesting to see how we could make a shared experience on the touchscreen for children,” says Jeffery. “The touchscreen itself gives kids the possibility to have their first interactive media experience.”

One of the releases which impressed me the most this week was a white paper coming out of Sesame Workshop providing app development tips for studios developing for children.

Touch screen technology is revolutionizing interactive digital experiences for children. No longer do our little ones need to wait to learn to navigate a mouse or press keyboard keys in order to access a host of interactive content designed for them. Instead, we see toddlers and preschoolers confidently navigating their parents’ iPhones, iPads, and other touch screen devices with astonishing agility and purpose. The explosion of apps for young children is not surprising; there is high demand and high appeal.

I was pleased that they echoed some of the tips which have come out of our experience, and which we’ve shared here and here, but SW has definitely gone the extra mile and offered greater granularity backed by research. The whole guide is available here. The folks at Sesame note that touch screen technology is revolutionizing interactive digital experiences for children. And this is only a few years into the history of touch screen tablets. I can’t wait to see what the next five years brings.    

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