Toy makers and retailers are filling shelves with new tech devices for children ages 3 and up, and sometimes even down. They say they are catering to junior consumers who want to emulate their parents and are not satisfied with fake gadgets. Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine, says there has been "a huge jump in the last 12 months" in toys that involve looking at a screen.
Six of the nine best-selling toys for 5- to 7-year-olds on Amazon.com yesterday were tech gadgets. For all of 2006, three of the top nine toys for that age group were tech-related. The so-called youth electronics category now accounts for more than 5% of all toy sales.
A programmer at Microsoft has invented PixelWhimsy, a computer program that allows toddlers to sit at a regular computer and bang away on the keys to create sounds, colors and shapes, but without damaging the computer. The trend concerns pediatricians and educators, who say excessive screen time stifles the imagination. But more traditional toys are seen by many children as obsolete.