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KINDERGARTEN iPods & Infant Karaoke

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 4:21 pm in Family Entertainment.

iPods (Yomiuri Shimbun/MCT) What’s that in your kindergartner’s ears? Most likely, it’s a pair of iPod ear buds. According to a recent story in Advertising Age magazine, 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s kids, ages 2-10, have iPods or similar MP3 players, either hand-me-downs from Mom and Dad, or a new Nano of their own.  “By third grade,” says Paul Metz, senior VP at C&R Research, “half of the kid population in grade school has an MP3 player.” And between the iPods, the Disney Mix Sticks and Mix Maxes – and the overwhelming popularity of Hannah Montana tunes and “High School Musical” 1, 2 and (soon) 3 ditties – we can expect those numbers to soar ever higher.

Those stats mesh with a recent New York Times piece on the proliferation of tech toys for the preschool and grade school set.

“Cellphones, laptops, digital cameras and MP3 music players are among the hottest gift items this year. For preschoolers,” the story, which was published Thanksgiving week, began. “Toy makers … say they are catering to junior consumers who want to emulate their parents and are not satisfied with fake gadgets.”

Fisher-Price Sing-Along Stage These days, toy stores overflow with tech gadgets. Just look at the Amazon best seller list, they said. So we did. Six of the top ten toys this week are electronic, and Webkinz, the stuffed animals with an online component, hold positions 1, 4, 5 and 7 on the hot list. And browsing under the electronics tab revealed, alongside the Leapfrog educational toys and more Webkinz … the bestselling Fisher-Price Little Superstar Sing-Along Stage, an interactive, electronic, spotlight-flashing, microphoned, mirrored extravaganza for 6-month-olds. (Good God. We’re afraid to look. Does it have a Simon Cowell feature too?)

So what are your thoughts? How young is too young for tech toys?

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