The growth of U.S. children aged 2 to 17 years old has increased by 12.68 percent, far outstripping the 1.54 percent population growth of that same age group, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
In the market research firm's latest report, According to Kids and Gaming 2011, which surveyed 4,136 individuals, 91 percent of kids in that group, or around 64 million children, now play games -- a 9-point increase compared to 2009's numbers.
The segment of that group that saw the fastest growth was children who are 2-5 years old, which saw "an increase of 17 points in gaming incidence" compared to 2009. Other fast-growing segments include females and the 15-17 year old range.
And the platforms that have seen the biggest increases in gaming activity among 2-17 year olds are mobile devices (up from 8 percent in 2009 to 38 percent) and computers. Traditional gaming handhelds, though, grew to only 45 percent from 38 percent.
NPD attributes the remarkable growth of younger players on mobile platforms to the availability of new devices on the market like tablets and iOS/Android-based smartphones, as well as huge increase in both free and paid content for those devices.
Despite that growth, the firm says that kids and their parents spent over five times as much on physical games (across handhelds and home consoles) as they did on mobile games for smartpones and other app-capable devices in the past three months.
"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," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
"She continues, 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."