Updated: May 4
By Philippe Guinaudeau, CEO
An article based on the presentation given at the January 26 press conference for the Spielwarenmesse
Children have extremely active schedules that include various activities spread throughout their 14-hour day, beginning early in the morning and ending late at night.
So we were curious about how he balances all of his activities and whether one activity might take precedence over others.
This led to a study by the BrandTrends Group, which aimed to understand how to increase the time children spend playing with toys in comparison to other activities, such as digital ones.
The Source of the data
In December 2022, the BrandTrends Group surveyed 6,399 kids and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 18 in four countries: the United States, Germany, Italy, and China. The survey was conducted online and represented each region and demographic proportionally based on population size to ensure a representative sample.
The BrandTrends Group is a premier provider of market research and consulting services, focusing on brand, lifestyle, and attitudinal trends, with a particular emphasis on children, youth, and families. Their team of experienced researchers and analysts is dedicated to helping businesses, organizations, and individuals stay ahead of the curve in the constantly changing market landscape.
We conduct extensive monitoring in up to 53 markets annually, providing their clients with in-depth knowledge, expertise, and unique, proprietary analytics to identify the best opportunities in retail activation, consumer attitudes & behavior, competitive environment, and brand line design.
The BrandTrends Group works with renowned global companies across a variety of industries, including consumer package goods corporations, entertainment studios, retailers, and industry bodies.
Children aged 3 to 14 watch less television…
Children’s television viewing patterns have changed lately as other digital media have gained popularity. The average amount of time kids spend watching TV has been declining over time, according to study. According to a BrandTrends Group survey, American children aged 3 to 14 watched TV an average of 24 hours per week in 2011, but this decreased to 12 hours per week in 2022. (11h49 minutes to be accurate). In Germany, watching TV counts for 11 hours (10h44 minutes to be accurate). Only the Chines kids spend much less time watching TV, with 7 hours (6h48 minutes) as they dedicate much more of their time to schooling.
Children’s television viewing habits have also drastically shifted, moving from live TV to streaming replays. This made it possible to watch a lot of television at once, binge watch, and find less new material.
According to our data, the percentage of American children who don’t watch TV live has climbed from 11% in December 2020 to 36% right now. In addition, 41% of children stream while watching TV.
… but they still spend a lot of time on the mobile phones … playing and consuming/creating content.
Additionally, research has indicated that kids are increasingly turning to other forms of digital media, such as streaming services, YouTube, and mobile apps, for entertainment. According to the study by BrandTrends Group, American children aged 3 to 14 in December 2022 spent an average of 9 hours and 45 minutes per week as their only major activity on mobile phones (this does not account for all of the micro-usages throughout the day), compared to 9 hours and 8 minutes in Germany or 6 hours in China.
As the BrandTrends Group shows, children between the ages of 3 and 14 spend the majority of their time on digital devices playing games, watching movies, and using social media.
Children enjoy playing games because it gives them hours of amusement, lets them explore new worlds, and teaches them new skills. Many video games feature vibrant graphics, interactive features, and difficult challenges in an effort to make them enjoyable and interesting for young players. In addition, games are available in a variety of genres, including puzzle, action, adventure, and educational games, which cater to various age groups and interests. Additionally, a lot of games provide multiplayer capabilities that let kids communicate and work with other players from across the world.
Children also enjoy watching videos. They now have access to a huge selection of films, including educational videos, music videos, and cartoons, thanks to platforms like YouTube and Netflix.
And finally, kids between the ages of 3 and 14 like using social media platforms, in continuation of their mobile phones. They use social media platforms to interact with friends and family, share photos and videos, and become a part of online communities. Children particularly like social media sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat because they make it simple for them to share their interests and experiences with others.
Playing with toys or playing with video games share many similarities!
- Both can promote creativity and imagination. Many of both worlds encourage children to explore new universes, create their own characters, and imagine new scenarios. This can help to foster children’s creativity and imagination, and also allows them to express themselves in new ways.
- Both can develop cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory. Many of both worlds require children to think strategically, make decisions, and find creative solutions to challenges, which can help to improve their overall cognitive abilities.
- Both can educate. Many of both worlds are designed to teach children new skills and concepts, such as math, spelling, and history (in toys, the now famous STEM toys). Additionally, many toys and video games are designed to teach children about different cultures, history, and other subjects that may not be covered in the classroom.
- Both can be used for socialization. Many of both worlds require children to interact and collaborate with others in order to complete tasks or achieve goals. This can help children to develop their communication skills, teamwork, and leadership. Additionally, both toys and video games can promote empathy, as children can learn to understand and relate to the perspectives of other characters in the game.
- Last but not least, both can provide children with a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, as they complete challenging tasks and progress through different levels.
Toys & Games managed to maintain their share of the activities among the younger kids.
Furthermore, the research shows that the time children spend playing with toys has decreased to 8 hours and 45 minutes in the United States, particularly among older kids between the ages of 10 and 14, while younger children between the ages of 3 and 9 have not shown a significant change in the time spent playing with toys. Similar trends have been observed in Germany, Italy, and China, although Chinese children are more focused in studying than playing or watching TV.
The study found that children enjoy playing with toys because it allows them to play alone or with others, and they can use their imagination to create their own worlds, stories, and combine different toys and games. This preference for playing with toys is consistent across all the surveyed countries, whether in the United States, Germany, or China.
Kids like to play with toys and games of their preferred video games or TV shows characters.
The study also found that children like to play with toys and games that feature characters from their favorite video games or TV shows, though:
- German children tend to be less inclined to integrate the two worlds (with 34% of them responding “Not at All”, the largest proportion of the surveyed countries); single-child homes in particular appear to be less likely to do so (41% of the single-child households).
- German and Chinese children would be more selective of the type of toys they would put their favorite characters on.
So how come the shift towards more interactive consumption presents an opportunity to toy manufacturers?
- Enhance the benefits of playing physically non-electronic, non-digital toys.
- Board games: Can be marketed as a way to spend quality time together.
- Building sets: Can be marketed as a way to promote creativity and problem-solving skills.
- Outdoor toys: Can be marketed as a way to promote physical activity and healthy living.
- Arts and crafts: Can be marketed as a way to promote creativity and self-expression.
- Dolls and action figures: Can be marketed as a way to promote imaginative play and storytelling.
- Puzzle: Can be marketed as a way to improve problem-solving skills and focus.
- Create new types of toys that incorporate technology and digital elements: Connected toys, smart toys, interactive toys, virtual and augmented reality toys, or robotics.
- Develop licensed merchandise based on popular video games such as action figures and playsets, which can appeal to children who are fans of the video game.
- Creating a toy that combines physical play with digital play, such as a board game that can be played with a mobile device.
Toys & Games have a huge opportunity.
In conclusion, we are currently experiencing a significant shift in the digital world where children are moving away from passive consumption of content and becoming active creators and participants in their own content.
Toys and games are the ideal category of products to meet these needs. Toys and games are the greatest category to maintain and advance such values in a time when children need interactivity, the ability to create content, interactions with others, and belonging to a community.
As toy manufacturers, it is important to seize this opportunity and promote traditional play to both parents and children as a way to balance digital and physical experiences, enriching the lives of kids.