Maybe recent price cuts on the Playstation, Xbox and GameCube consoles will change things. However, videogame console sales have stalled while personal computer, cell phone and digital camera penetration in U.S. households has increased, according to preliminary results released today by
Slightly over 70 percent of the nation’s households with kids 19 or younger used computers in 2002, up from 55 percent in 2000 and 43 percent in 1995, according to MetaFacts Principal Analyst Dan Ness. The presence of both kids and personal computers in the household is related to the increased use of other technology products in the home sector, he added. Digital cameras have quickly increased in penetration of households with personal computers and kids, rising to over three in 10 (31.3 percent) from less than one-quarter (22.5 percent) only last year.
Meanwhile, the growth of videogame systems was effectively flat in the same households over the past year. Nearly four in 10 (39.7 percent) of households with personal computers and kids owned a videogame system in 2001, compared to 39.2 percent in 2002.
“Kids have discovered they can have fun on PCs, the Internet and handheld game systems, challenging the traditional videogame console,” said Ness. “Videogame console makers need to figure out how to have their systems play well with other platforms.”
While it appears that the presence of children in the household helps to drive the use of PCs, “the age of children in the household was not a factor in whether households were more or less likely to have a PC,” said Ness. Households with toddlers have the same personal computer penetration rate as those with preteens and teens, he added.
Socioeconomic factors influence the use of personal computers among households with children. Where either the male or female head of household has graduated college, the penetration of computers into homes with kids is 84 percent compared to those households who have heads of household without a high school education where the penetration is less than half. Household income is also a factor. Eighty-two percent of households with kids with US$50,000 or more in annual income own a personal computer compared to 58 percent of households with kids with income under $50,000. Marital status is also related. Married couples with kids are more likely to own a personal computer (75 percent), than divorced (63.5 percent), separated (54.2 percent), unmarried (51.2 percent), or widowed (41.7 percent) parents.
Of the households with kids who don’t own a computer at home, heads of households cited several roadblocks to purchasing: a lack of experience in buying consumer electronics; perceived high risk in buying electronic products; not feeling they can keep up with current events; and financial concerns. The report also shows that suburbs have the highest percentage of households with kids that use personal computers, followed by city centers. Households with kids in areas outside of metropolitan areas have the lowest personal computer penetration.
The four states with the highest percentage of households with kids using personal computers are Vermont (91percent), New Hampshire (86 percent), South Dakota (86 percent), and Arizona (84 percent). The full report on all this, called “Technology User Profile 2002 Annual Edition,” will be released later this year. The study doesn’t break down the percentage of Wintel and Mac systems.