Traditional and Tech-Based Activities Co-Exist in Kids’ World of Play, NPD Group Finds

Port Washington, NY, January 12, 2016 – Today’s kids are growing up in a technology driven world, but that does not mean they are trading in dolls and board games for tablets and video games. In fact, the latest report from global information company The NPD Group, Kids Share of Time and Wallet 2015, found that traditional and technology play are co-existing as kids are devoting about the same amount of their time on both types of activities.

The study found that traditional play activities—which includes playing with traditional toys and board games, doing arts and crafts, reading, and going to the movies—tops the list of activity types that kids aged 0-14 participate in during their free time, followed closely by technology based activities, which includes playing video games, watching television, listening to music, and using the computer for non-gaming activities. On a weekly basis, 87 percent of kids are engaged in traditional play/activities, while 85 percent are engaged in technology play/activities.   

“It is very tempting to think that kids today are drastically different than they were even a handful of years ago, but the activities they are drawn to and love are much more similar than different. It is the types of products we are delivering to address these iconic play patterns that have changed,” said Juli Lennett, U.S. toys industry analyst, The NPD Group. “There is a lot to be said by the fact that traditional and technology play activities are just as popular. Despite the plethora of options competing for playtime, kids are not swapping one for the other; they are making time for both.”

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Kids Share of Time and Wallet 2015

The Rise of Mobile and its Playtime Presence

Mobile has impacted the way in which kids engage with TV and movies. Among those who participate in the activity, kids today are spending about 6.7 hours per week watching traditional television and about 4.3 hours watching TV, movies or videos on a mobile device, which includes smartphones, tablets, and iPod touch. The integration of mobile into kids’ daily lives has shifted the technology landscape, and has the potential to influence their relationship with traditional toys. Amidst the growth of technology and mobile device usage, the U.S. toy industry is also growing, and at a higher rate than it has been for the past few years*.

“While a few years ago the general thinking was that the mobile device would be a toy category killer, we now believe that these devices may be helping to grow the toy category,” said Lennett. “Kids are watching their favorite characters wherever and whenever they want, which connects them even deeper to these characters. The thinking is that, because they are more invested and engaged, they want to experience the physical character by means of a toy, more so now than ever before. In fact, the U.S. toy industry grew 6 percent from January through November 2015, compared to 2 percent during this time in 2014. I am inclined to think that the increased exposure children are having to their favorite shows and characters is resulting in higher toy sales for these brands.”


The objective of Kids Share of Time and Wallet 2015 is to provide an in-depth view of how and where moms spend money on kids aged 14 or younger, as well as how kids spend their leisure time. An online survey was conducted from October 23-October 30, 2015 among a U.S. representative sample of 2,095 moms ages 18+ with a child 14-years old or younger in the household. Moms were asked to confirm they had at least one child in the household aged 14 or younger. If more than one child within that age range was living in the home, moms were asked to answer the survey based on the child whose birthday came next.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service

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