91 percent of kids are gamers, research says

The population of children who play video games is growing, and has been boosted in large part by kids between the ages of 2 and 5.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

An overwhelming number of American children between the ages of 2 and 17 are playing video games, a new study released today by the NPD Group has found.

According to the research firm, 91 percent of kids between 2 and 17, or about 64 million people, are playing video games, up 9 percentage points compared to 2009.

NPD says that the growth has been measured across the market, but the strongest gains have come from kids between the ages of 2 and 5, which have increased their "gaming incidence" 17 percentage points since 2009. Females and teens between 15 and 17 are also helping to drive more growth.

All that gaming is driving significant revenue for game companies, NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement.

"Year-to-date through August 2011, kids comprised 44 percent of new physical software dollar sales, representing a vitally important consumer segment for the games industry," Frazier said. "Knowing how kids are spending their gaming time and dollars in both traditional and non-traditional outlets is key to staying relevant to this highly engaged audience."

As American children increasingly turn to games to entertain themselves, studies over the years have questioned whether that's a good or bad thing.

Last year, Iowa State University released a study that found children who played video games and watched television faced "greater attention problems" while in school. That study followed earlier research performed by the school, which claims that there is a correlation between high-volume gameplay and Attention Deficit Disorder.

When kids take to their gaming devices, they're increasingly picking up mobile devices, NPD found. The company said that in 2009, just 8 percent of children played games on mobile platforms, and now that figure has grown to 38 percent. Usage of portable gaming devices, like the PSP or DS, has grown from 38 percent to 45 percent, the researchers said.

NPD's data was collected in August from surveys of 4,136 children between the ages of 2 and 17.