Hackernoon logoIs the Rise of Preschoolers' App Usage a Pandemic Boom or a Paradigm Shift? by@mike-kotlov

Is the Rise of Preschoolers' App Usage a Pandemic Boom or a Paradigm Shift?

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@mike-kotlovMike Kotlov

Co-Founder & CEO @ IntellectoKids

In mid-2020, remote jobs, contactless delivery, and social distancing became the new normal. COVID-19 forced even the conservative education industry to change its rules. Children are not the face of this pandemic, but their academic growth, mental health, and social skills were affected, too. This is an overview of how COVID-19 pandemic affected kids' education, what is predicted for the global online education market, and how EdTech apps for children perform now.

COVID-19 vs. Schools 

The very first step in reducing social contact between children was the closure of schools and kindergartens. The Unesco interactive map below displays statistics on the students who faced school closures, experiencing new challenges for academic performance. In April 2020, 91% of all students were affected by the pandemic:
Global monitoring of school closures caused by COVID-19, UNESCO 
To prevent an intellectual gap during the forced break, new laws on distance education began to appear in countries across the globe. The United Nations study reports that by mid-April, more than two-thirds of countries have introduced a national distance-learning platform. However, among low-income countries, the share was only 30 percent, and many households were left without the technical ability to keep up with the circumstances.

"Hype" or a Long-Term Structural Change?

When schools shutdown, millions of children remained out of the classroom, and the education system quickly responded with new types of learning. E-learning increased distinctively and the landscape in the online learning market changed accordingly.
Even before the boost of online learning in 2020, educational technologies already showed high growth and adoption rates. The overall market for online education is projected to reach $319.2 billion by 2025, compared to $187.9 billion in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 9.23% between 2020 and 2025. 
Additional support and ultimate driver of the EdTech industry is venture capital investments. Global investments in EdTech reached $18.7 billion in 2019. IntellectoKids also benefited from this rise — in 2019, the company raised $1 million from Ukrainian VC-fund Genesis Investments. Education market intelligence platform HolonIQ shows that the number of listed education companies with a market cap exceeding $1 billion increased from 10 in 2015 to 30 in 2018. This number is expected to increase to more than 100 companies by 2025:
Since COVID-19 disrupted the normal path of life, there has been a significant surge in the usage of online learning software, video conferencing tools, virtual tutoring, and educational mobile apps for children. 

The Rise of Educational Apps For Pre-Schoolers

While schoolchildren study online via Learning Management Systems  designed by educational institutions or bought from third parties, children under 5 remain less equipped. Parents, who now work remotely, more often turn to Google Play Market or AppStore to find informative edutainment solutions for their preschool-aged children. It has led to the rapid growth of the educational segment in Apps For Kids Under 5 category, which has shown steady progress since 2017. 
According to AppAnnie, between 2017 and 2019, the global market of Apps For Kids 5 Years & Under (iOS) grew at 65% CAGR and increased from $22.4 million in 2017 to $61.4 million in 2019. Educational Segment of the apps mentioned above grew at 75% CAGR within the same timeframe and increased from $17.9 million in 2017 to $54.5 million in 2019. Overall, educational applications consistently hold a large share among all revenue-generating applications for kids.

All Kids' Apps revenue vs. Educational Apps for Kids revenue, 5 Years & Under (iOS), AppAnnie data 
When shelter-in-place restrictions changed the everyday life of parents and their children, the Apps For Kids 5 Years & Under (iOS) Category grew from January to May by 42% more than this category's revenue within a comparable period in 2019. Educational apps within this category comprised 92% of the total revenues. If the trend perseveres till the end of 2020, Apps For Kids 5 Years & Under (iOS) Category will be worth ~$87 million. 

Mobile Educational Apps Growth Factors

Since the educational segment's revenue started to increase several years before COVID-19 changes, there are prerequisites for its growth other than coronavirus. One of the most prominent drivers is children’s overall content consumption pattern. Common Sense, a research-based evaluating organization, does a regular study of media use by children aged 0 to 8. The latest study documents media use among children in 2017 and shows their behavior patterns, necessary for those who are working to support children’s healthy development. The screen time of kids from 0 to 8 depends on the demographic factors, but on average, children spend from 1.5 to 3.5 hours a day using mobile devices:
Screen Media Time, by Demographics, 2017, Common Sense data
Since the organization conducts such surveys regularly, it is possible to compare past and present indicators. As such, from  2011 to 2017, the media platform choice chart changed because of a significant increase in mobile devices use.
Screen Media Use by Platform, 2011 vs. 2017, Common Sense data
This means that young users consume much more content through mobile devices now compared to how they did in the past. In recent years, more and more families began to own mobile devices, and children have switched from TV and DVD to tablets and smartphones: in 2017, 98% of households had at least one mobile device at home, while in 2011 it was owned by only 52%. Now, nearly half (45%) of children aged 0-8 have their own smartphone or tablet, up from 3% in 2011 and 12% in 2013. 
Another important growth factor is the global demographic change. The world's population grows by about 360,000 people each day, according to the UN. Our World in Data Research Center shows an interactive chart with a predicted rate of 120-140 million birth per upcoming years.
If the trend perseveres as predicted, before 2030 another 1 billion people will increase the demand for educational products, which gives immense opportunity for the EdTech industry growth.

Parents’ Perception of School Education

The nature of education is already changing irrevocably, both from kids’ and parents’ perspective.
As a father, I have experienced industry changes, too. I have three kids, and had the chance to watch their transition to online education personally. First, I could never imagine that my kids would be able to study on their own and focus without the physical presence of a teacher. But it turned out that they can diligently follow the tasks online with absolutely no distractions. Our perception has changed too, and now my wife and I decided to enroll the children in full-time distance learning even after the restrictions are lifted.
My team at IntellectoKids oversees behavioral patterns from inside of the business. Our portfolio of apps includes several applications, such as: Learning Games for Kids, English for Kids Toddlers, Educational Stories Kids, and Super Parents, Baby Log. Due to the quarantine, our monthly subscription revenue has tripled between February and March. It indicates that more and more parents are looking for a convenient solution to educate their children and resort to mobile apps. IntellectoKids’ Apps help parents ensure that their children consume high-quality educational content. In the past few months, these applications received a record number of downloads and subscriptions.  We are planning to further deepen the educational value of our products by launching structured, curriculum-based ‘classroom’ activities, as well as online lessons on particular subjects later this year to help pre-kindergarten children better prepare for their first grade at school.
Modern parents are aware of the existence of inappropriate content with violence, nudity, and advertising in media, but they know that the internet is also a great resource to learn and support creativity if used properly. According to Common Sense, 75% of parents say that the use of media contributes to learning:
A survey of parents about their opinions on the impact of media on their children, Common Sense data
The research demonstrates that most of the parents believe that media improves children’s learning experience and boosts creativity. That is why the tools for learning anywhere and anytime now receive such an acceleration of development.
Mike Kotlov, is the co-founder & CEO of IntellectoKids, a startup that teaches children ages 3-6 to count, speak English, and think logically.

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