According to a new report by Digital Book World and Play Collective (love that name!), kids who read digitally now do so more on Kindle Fires than iPads: 27 percent on the Fire vs. 20 percent on an iPad. That’s a switch from eight months ago when it was 20 percent Fire, 22 percent iPad.

Not surprisingly, there’s also been an increase in the number of children who have access to tablets. About 84 percent of children who read digitally have access to a tablet, up from 72 percent in January. All figures are for the U.S. only.

My kid is way beyond this age (he’s 21), so I don’t usually think about youngsters and technology until I read a report like this, or watch a child playing with a device when I’m out.

About a month ago, I watched a young boy (who wasn’t yet two), handle an iPhone every bit as well as I do. Who says young children don’t have hand-eye coordination? He didn’t fumble or drop the thing once, and he was swiping, changing apps and playing games like a pro.

Earlier this year, I was sitting near a young boy playing Temple Run on an iPad mini. I couldn’t even follow the game play, much less hope to do nearly as well.

Yes, I see the temptation to park a child in front of an iPad (or now, more often a Kindle Fire) and use the device as a babysitter. On the other hand, technology skills are only going to be more in demand in the future, and I think there’s a value in having children learn them young.

But then, I’m a self-professed geek, so I might just be biased. Thoughts?


  1. “The data from this report comes from a May 2013 online survey conducted among a sample of 750 U.S. adults who have children ages two-to-13 in the household who read digitally.”

    Of course, it also says that of that 84% only 54% read primarily on a tablet. And of the 54%, 22% are Kindle users and 20% are iPad users. So what are the other 58% of the 54% of the 84% using to read eboks on? (I’m sure I have the numbers wrong since that would mean only 10% approx (with some TN windage) of children between 2 and 13 are reading on kindles. Which isn’t a big number.)

    Some bored/diligent person want to correct my math? I have to go play in holiday rush hour traffic.

  2. @Andy, I didn’t pay $99 to view the full report, so I’m only guessing, but I assumed the other tablets readers were Nooks, other Android tablets or the like. And the non-tablet readers were using e-Ink devices.

    @Frank, I’ve read on numerous occasions that if you select your sample correctly, the difference in results with a larger size doesn’t affect the percentages. Of course, I’ve got no way of testing their sample criteria.

    Take from it what you will.

  3. Yes, if the sample is random, its size matters (for % accuracy) but the size of the population doesn’t.

    And the household may have multiple tablets.

  4. @Mike D, you are mistaken about population size. It is very relevant. Here’s a calculator that will make that point quite obvious:
    To get a modest confidence level of .85 and be able to generalize results to a population of 200M, your sample size will need to be at least 13,292.
    You are correct in saying that the sampling has to be random where “random” is defined as a case where all members of the population to which the results will be generalized have an equal chance of being chosen.
    @Juli: As you may suspect, spurious statistics are often sequestered behind a formidable paywall, usually in the thousands, so this may simply be a revenue generator. If so, they made a tactical error in revealing the sample size and naming the population. No need to pay the toll, the results are not statistically defensible.
    In my really cynical moments, I imagine that much of this poor quality “research” is actually astroturfing for a fee. Not possible, right?

  5. Once upon a time I was a sociologist, so it is fun/funny to me to read the intelligent debate in the comments about the methodology/statistics here!

    But I’m commenting on the piece as a parent to a six-year old who loves books/struggles with reading (learning challenges, ADHD, etc.). I was a firm old-school type who loved print books and shied away from the idea of digital books for a long time. Then our family participated in a beta test for a children’s ebook company ( and checked out their approach. Notably, they don’t want to offer kids highly interactive, bells and whistles style books, but digital fascimiles of print books to put the emphasis on reading and the love of books. (That appealed to me, though I enjoy a lovely interactive ebook now and again.)

    The key thing was my daughter read her first sentences using the ebook on iPad and I took note. I do some parent blogging for them now, but still talk about using all the books we can, from our personal collections, the library, and our subscription with them. The combination of resources seems to keep my daughter motivated to try to learn reading, and engaged.

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