Are Kids and Teens Using Smart Speakers?

The Smart Speaker Series | Infographic

This week, we're looking at the smart speaker audience. Each day, we'll delve into a different demographic and see what usage among the various age groups looks like. First up: kids and teens.

Kids may not be old enough to buy a smart speaker, but that's not stopping them from spending a lot of time with voice technology.

This year, we expect 1.5 million kids—those ages 11 and younger—to use a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home, at least once a month. By 2020, that figure will grow to 2.2 million.

"We expect families will soon make up the core of the smart speaker user base," wrote eMarketer analyst Jasmine Enberg in the May report: Hey Alexa, Who's Using Smart Speakers?

Similarly, eMarketer principal analyst Victoria Petrock addressed the topic in her report from earlier this year: What's Next for Voice Control? "Today, many voice platform providers see kids and families as a potentially lucrative market. In 2017, Mattel announced Aristotle, a smart speaker designed for children that was dubbed an 'AI babysitter.' While the company pulled the plug on the product later that year amid privacy concerns, other voice platform providers have announced family-related initiatives," Petrock wrote.

"In April 2018, Amazon introduced its Echo Dot Kids Edition, which features parental controls, kid-friendly content and a colorful case," she said.

According to research from SuperAwesome, more than nine in 10 kids in the US ages 4 to 11 have access to a smart speaker or voice assistant. "We also found that 26% of kids exposed to voice technology engage with smart speakers between 2 to 4 hours per week, and 20% talk to devices more than 5 hours a week," said Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome.

Interestingly, most kids who are voice assistant users are using them on smart speakers, while only half of teens do the same.

“Unlike kids, teens are using voice assistants heavily on smartphones," said eMarketer forecast analyst Jaimie Chung. "While kids’ first interactions with voice assistants are generally with the smart speaker, teens who have smartphones are adopting the technology on their mobile devices."

"Higher smartphone ownership and more independence are the obvious causes of this trend, but another factor at play is that teens are digital natives who have adapted to the screen interface while kids are growing up alongside voice technology and don’t view voice as new or strange. Smart speakers are increasingly becoming another member of the household for kids," Chung said.

Teen voice assistant users may not be using smart speakers as heavily as their older cohorts, but that doesn't mean this group should be overlooked.

This year, we expect 2.6 million teens—ages 12 to 17—will use a smart speaker at least once a month. This group will make up 10.3% of the teen population in 2018, an increase of 71.2% from 2017.