Children 14 and under spend about five hours a week using a mobile device, according to a new report from the NPD Group, and a lot of that time is spent using apps. More specifically, children between 2 and 12 use a mobile device an average of five days each week, with an average session lasting just under an hour.

The study found an average of 12 apps on mobile devices that kids use. It further noted that 88 percent of these apps were acquired for free.

Whether paid for or not, slightly over half (54 percent) of the apps kids use are games. Listening to or downloading music is the next most popular app activity, followed by taking pictures.

Paid-for apps are led by games as well, but by a smaller margin of 35 percent. Educational game and movie apps come in next.

Differences arise when the numbers are broken out by gender. Both are likely to play games, but 87 of boys compared to 80 percent of girls do. Girls show an overall tendency to have and use a greater variety of apps than boys do.

Not all kids are mobile users, of course. Adults who own a mobile device but don’t let their child use it said they would change their mind about that if more educational apps were available or if the devices were durable enough to survive handling by young hands.

“The wide variety and sheer volume of free entertainment content available for app devices is clearly having an impact on kids and the way they play,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, the NPD Group. “While there are a number of engaging and entertaining apps available to kids, many are used and abandoned after a short time, so it’s important to get a clear, factual picture of the role that apps are playing in kids’ lives.”

Reminder: Digital Media Wire is producing the first annual Mobile & Social Entertainment Summit at DMCE on June 29, as part of CE Week in New York City.

Related link:

The NPD Group – Kids and Apps: A New Era of Play

Photo by Flickr user oddharmonic, used under Creative Commons license