How kids go online today determines what they’ll demand as consumers tomorrow

Credit: setthawit yantaporn /

Recent surveys into how kids go online, and how frequently, produce one result that is common. Whether they live in Poland, the UK or India, they use their smartphone more than other devices. To an astonishing degree.

Smartphone penetration in the UK among 5-16 year olds now stands at 39%, up from 35% last year, and the study found that “smartphones are now the default device for music, online access, gaming, video content and, after printed books, reading”. YouTube is by far the most popular application.

In Poland, “almost all” kids use the smartphone to go online; 78% of kids use social media at least once a day, and almost 80% use the internet to do homework.

In India, “some 98.8% of school-going children access the internet in urban areas and over 43% use mobile as the medium to access internet, followed by laptop, desktop and tablets.”

The difference in application usage is marked – Facebook still being very popular in India, not so much elsewhere – but the other similarity in all three markets is cyber bullying and security. The percentage of kids who have been hacked, embarrassed or blackmailed is too high.

It is tempting to simply think that this is the way the world is going, but the ramification for device manufacturers is not to be underestimated. Within a decade these kids will be in business and will have buying power.

If the three studies, amongst large numbers of children, are accurate, then the smartphone market seems destined to continue to grow indefinitely (albeit not as fast as previously). Interestingly the larger style smartphones were less popular than the smaller versions.

What they also show is the age of the desktop computer, the laptop and the tablet all need to be examined. Common sense would seem to suggest that, particularly with improvements to virtual keyboards, the tablet will replace the laptop, the desktop will all but become extinct, and the smartphone will live on.

Unless, of course, someone comes up with the Next Big Thing in devices.

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