Over 90 percent of kids between 8 and 11 play online games and influence billions of dollars in video game purchases. That information from M2 Research makes you sit up and take notice. Ya gotta like statistics to enjoy the report, but there is some significant information to be had. We are told that children turn from traditional toys to video games at age eight.

Of course, online games are popular, with Sony Online Entertainment?s Clone Wars Adventure and Warner Bros Interactive?s LEGO Universe being sites to watch. The games vary depending on the gender and age of the child. However, social networks rank high in appeal in most cases. Facebook is in the top three favorite websites for both boys and girls in all age groups. Still, females at 57 percent outnumber the males on Facebook, and Twitter garners about 59 percent female users.

Nintendo is the dominate handheld device, and according to the company?s president, Reggie Fils-Aime, of console players roughly 11.7 million are girls. Of those, 80 percent are on the Wii, 11 percent are on the Xbox 360, and 9 percent are on the PS3. A very small percentage of girls use Sony?s PSP, while almost half of the boys do. And, many of those millions of girls are switching to the iPhone and recently to the iPad.

Some things never change, as one of most played video games by kids is none other than Super Mario on Nintendo Wii
Some things never change, as one of most played video games by kids is none other than Super Mario on Nintendo Wii

Video game franchises really differentiate the youngster?s marketplace. A fourth of the girls lean towards the Mario Series, featuring a little Italian plumber with a moustache created by videogame designer Shigeru Miyamoto. The theme of the Mario series has been described as bad Bowser kidnaps Princess who is then saved by Mario. Since the early 1980?s, the simple plot has survived through more than 200 games and by selling over 200 million copies, it has become the best selling video game series ever.

Call of Duty Series is also one of most played games among kids, especially male onesOn the other hand, one third of the boys surveyed went for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As the name suggests, warring strife between nations is the subject. The series has covered the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II, with Russians, Germans, British, and American soldiers showing up throughout the various Call of Duty titles. The upcoming release, named Call of Duty 7: Black Ops, takes the single-player gamer to fights in Cuba, Vietnam and the Arctic.

Early on, gaming companies thought "make it pink and they will come" when trying to garner the girl?s attention. Statistics show that is not necessarily so. Researchers indicate that the main criteria for attracting gamers is that the game must engage the player and be challenging, regardless of age or gender.

How many boys and girls play on a given platform balances out when it comes to PC gaming. The research company estimates that worldwide around 130 million women are involved compared to 140 million men.

The report: Kids and Games: What Boys and Girls are Playing Today is the result of a newly formed partnership between M2 Research and KidSay, a research company that has been tracking children?s preferences for more than a decade. Over 5,000 kids in the US formed the basis for the report which presents over 80 gaming charts. M2 Research focuses on gaming and emerging trends in demographics, technology, and consumer preferences, and publishes relevant information in market reports and newsletters.