Are Toddlers a New User Base for Software Products?
The digital revolution’s reach is globally deep-rooted and touches the lives of not only adults and teenagers but lately even our youngest user base—the toddler community. The use of digital information and devices among toddlers has been steadily increasing each year. Recent studies from the non-profit firm Common Sense Media show that 38 percent of two-year-olds are using mobile devices. This number has steadily gone up from just about 10 percent in 2011.
Children at this stage are clearly influenced by what their parents do, and they get to use mobile devices at home. One of the major reasons device usage has gone up among toddlers is the increasing market acceptance of mobile devices, particularly tablets. In parallel, newer tablets are flooding the marketplace and are targeting this young user base.
In addition to the increasing number of toddlers who are becoming adept at using and consuming digital information on devices, other data points look at the amount of time toddlers spend on devices daily and the kinds of activities for which they use them. Ongoing surveys continue to report new numbers on how much screen time kids get each day on average and whether that much exposure is good or bad.
If we look at this purely from constructive and positive angles, there are varied benefits—including better education, creativity enhancement, and exposure opportunities. There is no denying that these little munchkins are an increasingly new user base that product and application makers need to account for. However, in leveraging the potential of this user base, the community as a whole has a collective responsibility to ensure the right information reaches our children.
Software makers have a responsibility to build applications that focus on promoting positive traits among kids. Device and software makers need to keep usability in mind to ensure our little friends are able to better navigate and use their products. Usability from the kids’ angle is particularly interesting and an area of ongoing research.
Factors—color choice, font choice, and speed of an application's rendering (especially games)—can impact children's vision and brain development when they are really young. At the consumer end, schools and educational institutions play a major role in helping kids use digital technology. Schools and parents have a partnered responsibility to help kids leverage technology in the right way.
Starting at a very young age, children are very curious and alert, and digital products go a long way in appealing to their curiosity and interest. As socially responsible community members—whether software maker, device manufacturer, school, or parent—let’s help connect our kids with the right digital information to promote responsible and ethical digital citizens.