"Mum, can I have your credit card number?"

There once was a time when "portable gaming" basically meant "Game Boy". Nintendo's line of handheld systems ruled the mobile world for well over a decade, and its reign was only ended by the arrival of its successor: the Nintendo DS.

While Nintendo continues to dominate the portable console arena with its best selling 3DS system, it has seen its influence eroded by the arrival of cheap and powerful tablets and smartphones. Fresh research from Futuresource Consulting indicates that more UK children play games on a tablet than they do on 3DS or other portable games console, with 44 percent of UK nippers aged between 3 and 12 now owning a tablet of some kind.

Quizzed parents also revealed that a tablet is the item they are most likely to purchase for their offspring in the next six months — in fact, they're twice as likely to buy one than they are a traditional handheld or domestic gaming machine.

The figures change with kids aged 9 and over, with smartphones becoming more popular than tablets — an understandable consequence of children growing up and being trusted with mobiles so that parents can keep in touch with them at all times. 25 percent of all 9 to 10 year olds in the UK own one, and this figure rises to 46 per cent for the ages 11 to 12. 53 percent of girls own a handset, while the number drops to 38 percent for boys of the same age.

Gaming may be on the rise due to the growing number of devices available, but it still ranks lower than traditional toys and other hobbies.

54 percent of UK kids play video games for five or more hours per week, climbing to 63 percent for those aged 11-12. Contrast this to time spent playing with "proper" toys — 63 percent dedicate the same amount of time to fiddling about with toys, while 39 percent of UK kiddies expend five or more hours a week on board games and jigaws. Reading is apparently the most popular activity for UK kids, with 45 precent reading every day of the week.

What are your thoughts on the stats? Can traditional consoles ever hope to compete with the now-ubiquitous tablets and smartphones? Are kids getting the same quality of entertainment from their tablets as they are from the 3DS? Will Nintendo's next portable system capitalise on the popularity of such tech? Stop playing Candy Crush Saga on your iPad for a second and leave a comment to tell us.

[source mcvuk.com]