What do people actually do with their tablets? They play games, an activity second in popularity only to general web access, according to new research from Frank N. Magid Associates and PlayFirst, besting checking email, watching videos and engaging with social networks.

Games also are the leading category of monetizable tablet and smartphone content, the report found.

Of the respondents who played games on these mobile screens, the average tablet owner downloaded at least 20 games during the past year, 7 of which they purchased. Of tablet gamers, 23 percent had paid for virtual goods (with an average spend of $67). For smartphones, the average player downloaded more than 10 games, and 14 percent paid for virtual goods averaging $25 per spender.

As in most other areas of life, it doesn’t pay for game studios to be sexist. Looking at all tablet users, 57 percent of women have purchased a game download, compared to 43 percent of the men.

“The tablet has become TV Jr. in the home,” said Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors. “Games are clearly at the center of the entertainment ecosystem on the tablet.”

Breaking down the list of tablet activities, in declining order of popularity, shows: check email (60 percent); watch videos (54 percent); use social networks (53 percent); listen to music (51 percent); and get weather information (49 percent). These and other statistics are included in the report below.

This is all good news for PlayFirst, whose popular casual games include Diner Dash (pictured), Wedding Dash, Cooking Dash and Mall Stars. “This study reaffirms what we’ve seen in our own business as demand for both tablet and smartphone games continues to be strong and growing,” said Marco DeMiroz, chief executive of PlayFirst. “Consumers love the free-to-play model as it gives them an opportunity to explore and play more games. Tablets are a natural home for these games especially as we see more beautiful displays and innovative features reaching the market.”

Related links:

Frank N. Magid Associates –

PlayFirst –