As the number of children using portable digital music players has grown, so too has the demand for specialized players, accessories and child-targeted video and music content. AdAge has a feature on the youngest demographic of the digital music market, reporting that one third of children aged 6 to 10 have a portable MP3 player. C&R Research SVP Paul Metz says that by third grade, half of the students have one such music player, while NPD analyst Anita Frazier conducted a study revealing that of the 31 percent of young digital music player owners, 54 percent use an iPod, and loaded onto devices owned by those aged 2 to 14 are an average of 125 songs, 10 television shows, and 15 movies.
Why such a considerable amount of elementary school MP3 player users? The report cites the availability of more players at lower prices, kids wanting to be more like grown-ups and parental hand-me-downs as the main factors. Forrester analyst James McQuivey explains the commonality of parents upgrading their own iPods and giving their children the older but still perfectly functioning models. Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) latest generation iPod Nano — the most commonly used iPod among youngsters — starts at just $149, while Disney (NYSE: DIS) offers $40 to $100 Mix Stick and Mix Max players with Hannah Montana, High School Musical and Pirates of the Caribbean covers. Sandisk also sells $40 Sansa Shakers that come in bright blue and pink.
Clearly, there is ample opportunity for accessory makers to cater to this demographic, and McQuivey sees positive parenting products leading the market, suggesting the manufacturing of smaller headphones with volume limits. Although Apple currently offers a free software volume patch enabling parents to control their children’s audio and the iTunes store sells plenty of Disney and Nickelodeon content, Metz doubts the company will more actively gear their products towards kids as part of the iPod’s appeal is that it is a more sophisticated device.