Your Kids Don't Want a PC or Xbox This Christmas

Child with headphones and playing with tablet
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We spend a lot more time on mobile devices than we used to, and apparently that's also the case with the youngest generation. Trend tracker NPD Group recently issued its "Kids and Gaming 2015" report, performing an online survey of and about kids ages 2 to 17 who are active players of video games.

More kids are scratching their gaming itch through tablets and smartphones these days, something that isn't a surprise to anyone who's seen the country's youth buried in their mobile devices. NPD's survey finds that 63 percent of kids who are active gamers are playing on mobile gadgetry, overtaking video game consoles as the platform of choice. Consoles -- including Xbox, PlayStation and Wii -- have seen their penetration shrink from 67 percent two years ago to just 60 percent today.

However, it's the PC that has taken the biggest hit at the expense of mobile's success. Just 45 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 17 are playing on a home computer, down from 67 percent two years ago. That's a much sharper decline than PC usage in general, and that has to be woefully problematic for the PC industry if we are to believe Whitney Houston's anthem that children are our future.

It's a Game Changer

Die-hard gamers will argue that smartphones and tablets are no match for the layers of gaming complexity available on consoles or the PC. The tactile sensation of handling a console controller or the sheer processing power of an accessory-laden desktop can't be duplicated on a tiny smartphone or flimsy tablet. However, for a growing number of people -- and clearly, kids included -- the mobile gaming experience is enough.

%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-884%This is actually good news for parents. For starters, have you seen how cheap tablets have become lately? (AMZN) just rolled out a $50 Kindle Fire tablet. That's actually less than what a single console game costs these days. Even Apple (AAPL) offers a more economical way to hop on the iOS platform. If you're willing to settle for last year's iPad mini model, it can be had for as little as $269. That's nearly half the price of the original iPad.

It's not just cheaper hardware that will make life easier on parents of active gamers. NPD Group found that the average amount of money spent by kids on digital games is half as much as kids spend on physical media games. That should come as a relief for parents who fear that kids will run up huge tabs on apps with add-on purchases. That can always happen, of course, but there are ways to set limits on that.

So keep all of this in mind in a few weeks when the holiday shopping season gets going. Kids are perfectly fine playing cheap games on $50 tablets. Maybe the new generation has its head in the right place after all.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.