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Kids’ new holiday mantra: iWant my iPad!

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Make room in the toy box for the iPad.

Crayola allows tots to doodle on the iPad using its iMarker just as they would a crayon on a coloring book. Tweens are able to belt out their favorite Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez tunes on a Disney microphone that turns the tablet into a karaoke machine. And technology accessories company Griffin enables teens to fly its toy helicopter by using the iPhone as a remote control.

This holiday season, toy makers have turned Apple Inc.’s pricey tablet and smartphone into playthings for kids. They figure in this weak economy, parents will be willing to splurge on toys for their children that utilize devices they already have — or want — themselves.

Tiffany Fessler of Gainsville, Ga., certainly was willing to do that even though when she initially bought her $829 iPad she never imagined she’d be sharing it with her 20-month-old son. But whenever she sat down to check e-mails on the iPad, he’d climb into her lap wanting to use it.

So, Fessler decided to get him the $29.99 Crayola iMarker, which transforms the iPad into a digital coloring book using Crayola’s free ColorStudio HD application that parents can download. Kids can draw and color using the iMarker, which has a soft tip so it doesn’t scratch the tablet’s glass screen.

“When you have a screaming toddler in a restaurant or any public area, you want to have something to calm him down with,” says Fessler, 39. “This is just another way to keep him entertained.”

That the iPad and iPhone have infiltrated the $22 billion toy market this season is no surprise. Smartphones and tablets — particularly Apple products — are more popular than ever with people of all ages. This year, Apple is expected to double the number of iPhones sold to 90.6 million worldwide, according to research firm Gartner, while the number of iPads sold is expected to triple to 46.7 million.

And Apple products have a certain “cool factor” with kids that toy companies, which can make up to half of their revenue during the holidays, are hoping to tap into. In fact, the iPad and iPhone are among the most coveted electronics this holiday season among kids. About 44 percent of 6- to 12-year-olds want the iPad this year, according to a survey by research firm Nielsen. The iPod touch came in the No. 2 spot with 30 percent, followed by the iPhone at 27 percent.

Not to mention, anyone who’s a parent knows all too well that babies and older kids alike love to fiddle with or drool all over Mommy’s iPad. Nearly 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds have used a smartphone, iPad or video iPod, according to a survey by nonprofit group Common Sense Media. That number rises to 52 percent for 5- to- 8-year-olds. And even 10 percent of infants have used one of the devices before their first birthday.

“It’s mostly something for kids to use in the car or at the doctor’s office,” says Chris Baynes, a toy analyst. “It’s a way to get the kid to be quiet.”

With that in mind, Crayola teamed up with Nashville, Tenn.-based Griffin Technology​, which is mostly known for selling iPhone and iPad cases and car chargers, to make the iMarker and the ColorStudio HD app for kids. The iMarker, which is like a stylus that resembles a Crayola marker, is targeted at children ages 3 and up.

“Regardless of who they buy it for, once it is in the household, we know that kids use it,” says Vicky Lozano, vice president of marketing at Crayola, which makes the iMarker.

Analysts say these toys are just the beginning of a new niche for toy makers. Indeed, most of the companies say they plan to roll out more products for smartphones and tablets — including some that use Google Inc​.’s Android software — next year.

“I think it’s going to be a growing segment,” says Jim Silver, editor in chief at toy review website TimeToPlay mag.com. “Next year, there will be even more (products) than you can possibly imagine.”

By Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 6, 2011

    I’ve gotta admit I’m dying for an iPad for the primary purpose I love all the apps for kids. Oh, and I stand to benefit from it as well. 🙂

  • comment avatar Jenns December 6, 2011

    Am I the only one who finds this just awful? As was mentioned more than once in the article, it is a great tool for getting your kid to shut up but really, at what cost? Your kid wants to color? Stick with crayons and paper. Your kid can’t act appropriate in a restaurant? You are in the wrong type of restaurant for their age. Teaching appropriate table manners and conversation doesn’t involve shutting your kid up. Unless, of course, you are looking to be that standard family that I see at every single meal out. You know, Mom and Dad playing on their phones, and 2.5 kids staring at their own devices. These devices are stealing the ability of an entire generation to interact and have meaningful conversations, all because we want them to sit still and shut up. Guess what, kids aren’t meant to sit still and shut up on a daily basis. Beyond that, you can’t entertain them 24-7 and you aren’t doing them any favors by trying.

    Either way, these companies are smart and are working hard at turning our toddlers into tiny, but lifelong, consumers. I keep my smartphone and ipad to myself. If I’m not staring at my phone constantly a funny thing happens, my kids don’t want to either.

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