Majority of Kids Are Computer Savvy

November 14, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

An overwhelming majority (89%) of all kids age 6-11 in the US spend at least some time doing online activities and – though many of their basic social activities haven’t changed much over the years – they have vastly different communication styles and preferences than older age groups, according to a study from Experian Consumer Research.

The Simmons Kids Fall 2007 Full Years Study found that because today’s kids have grown up in the age of online communication, networking, the internet, cell phones, digital music and digital cable, they have had different childhood experiences compared with other generations. This makes them more likely to react differently than their older counterparts to advertising and marketing initiatives.

The study also found that while kids may not currently spend much money, they are very likely to influence their parents’ purchasing decisions.

Overall survey findings:

  • The majority of kids are computer savvy and spend a significant amount of time online.
  • Computer time is enjoyed fairly similarly across age groups and gender.
  • Top activities for kids haven’t changed much over the years and still include going to the movies, spending time with family, and playing sports.
  • Most kids tend to pursue leisure activities that are social in nature, but a significant percentage of girls and the youngest kids still enjoy more alone time doing artistic activities and reading books.

Online Activities are Diverse


In terms of internet use, 89% of all kids age 6-11 use online computer services. Among this group of kids, the top activities are:

  • Playing games.
  • Doing research for homework.
  • Listening to or downloading music.
  • Visiting the websites of favorite cable networks including Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. This is particularly true for older kids.

Kids age 10-11 are also more likely than younger kids to be socializing online through email, instant messaging or blogs. Members of this demographic are also starting to visit and use search engines at much higher rates than younger kids.

Toys and Candy Still Top Spending List

The study finds that not much has changed over the years in what kids are spending their money on: Toys and candy are top items among both boys and girls.


Key differences:

  • Boys are also more likely to spend their money on video games and collecting cards.
  • Girls are more likely to use their money to buy clothing.
  • About 40% of kids say they spend their money on toys and about one-third on video-games.
  • Interest in particular types of toys and games varies by age group.
  • Younger kids prefer educational games or toys that tap into their natural creativity and imagination.
  • 10- and 11-year olds prefer more intellectual or skill oriented toys/games.

Differences in Self Perception

The research also indicates that there are significant differences in the way different types of kids perceive themselves and act. Findings suggest that kids can be segmented into four different groups based on behaviors and attitudes about video game playing, online communications, the green movement and team sports. These groups are identified by Simmons as “Gamers,” “Little Greenies,” “Social Networkers” and “Team Players.”

  • More than one-third of kids age 6-11 are Gamers, and almost half of the other groups fall into that category as well.
  • Social Networkers, Little Greenies and Team Players are more unique and share far fewer kids across groups.
  • Little Greenies are most likely to see themselves as innovators, while Team Players are followers
  • Social Networkers are most likely to see themselves as fashionable, while Little Greenies and Gamers prefer more unique personal styles.
  • Team Players and Social Networkers are most likely to be achievers and strive to go to college and be famous.
  • When it comes to media and advertising, Little Greenies are most receptive to ads, while Social Networkers are the most involved with all types of media.

About the research: Approximately 2,500 children between age 6 -11 are surveyed by the Simmons’ questionnaire each year. They are asked how much of a product they consume, the brands they like best and how often it’s in their homes-reflecting the amount of purchase influence they wield. Additional psychographic questions are asked about fashion, multiple media channels, money, parents, friends, self-image, the internet, media usage and much more.

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