Nielsen found that education was the second most popular tablet activity for children after playing games. ©Tyler Olson/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – Need a way to keep your kids quiet while traveling, entertained at a restaurant or just want to teach them some facts? More and more parents are letting their kids aged 11 and under loose on a tablet device.

A new study by market researcher Nielsen has found that adults commonly use tablets to pacify their children while they are out of the house.

More than half of adults said their children used a tablet as a form of entertainment while traveling. Two out of five gave their children a tablet to keep them occupied while they were at a restaurant or event.

Children were eager to download and play games on the tablet computer, but were also happy to use the device for educational purposes. In fact, Nielsen found that education was the second most popular tablet activity for children after playing games.

“Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said children play downloaded games on their tablets and 57 percent said children used tablets to access educational apps,” said Nielsen.

Parents are also turning to the tablet as an alternative media consumption device for their children. Forty-three percent of parents reported that their children often watched TV shows or movies on their tablet.

The only activity that children shied away from was using the device to communicate with friends or family. Only 15 percent reported that their young child used the tablet to stay in touch with friends or family.

Mobile devices are starting to become ubiquitous in family homes and kids have been quick to learn that their parent’s tablet can be the gateway to many exciting possibilities.

As schools start to swap heavy books for digital devices and initiatives such as the Khan Academy or Apple’s digital textbooks hit mainstream, you can expect younger generations to have their hands and fingers attached to a touchscreen at all times.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, seven out of ten children in tablet owning-households were allowed to use the mobile computing device, up nice percent from Q3 2011.