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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, February 11, 2006

And the walls come tumblin' down

Look, mommy, I have a picture of daddy's
girlfriend....I mean the babysitter

Mommy, Help Me Download 'Farmer in the Dell' to My MP3 Player

Published: February 11, 2006

As digital electronics have invaded Toyland, putting video projectors and cellphones into the hands of 7- year-olds, companies that cater to preschoolers have deliberately sat on the sidelines, determined to hold up the wall between adult technology and children's play.

The Digital Song and Story Player from Fisher-Price is a digital music player for preschoolers that features big buttons for easier use.

But the wall is about to come crashing down.

At least that is how it will look from the floor of the America International Toy Fair, the industry's biggest annual trade show in the United States, which begins tomorrow at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Fisher-Price, synonymous with Elmo and Power Wheels, will introduce a digital music player and digital camera for children ages 3 and older that will be sold during the 2006 holiday season.

Tek Nek Toys will show off a small digital music player with built-in speakers and flashing lights, called CoolP3 Fusion, for children 4 and up. Emerson Radio will introduce a SpongeBob SquarePants speaker system for MP3 players and SpongeBob SquarePants digital camera.

In perhaps the most extreme example of the trend, a company called Baby Einstein will introduce a baby rocker with an MP3 adapter and speakers.

But proponents of traditional make-believe play, who objected last year when toy companies marketed digital electronics to "tweens" — children 8 through 12 — are expected to protest even more loudly when they are advertised to toddlers.

"This is a big leap," said Reyne Rice, a toy trends specialists for the Toy Industry Association. "A 3-year-old with a digital camera is unusual."

Actually, in my experience, small kids love things like cameras and music players. The fact is that parents don't let the use them because of their fragility, not a lack of curiousity.

If you ask a four year old what a cellphone is and how to use it, many, many of them know, and some can dial a number. The idea that there is this border of curiousity is simply fiction. What? You think an MP3 player is going to stop the use of Duplo? I think not.

But the wall I'm talking about isn't between what toys are age appropriate, but the music industry's quest to limit the spread of MP3's. With toddlers now listening to the newest cuts from Raffi and the Wiggles, and podcasts from Teletubbies, any hope of controlling MP3's has met a final barrier. Ubiquity is fast arriving to the MP3. It will be everywhere.

Mommies and daddies will fire up their new iPod stereo at parties for the little ones. They'll make MP3 CD's to hand out as party favors. The idea of MP3's wioll filter down like the use of Word or a digital camera.

Sorry, MPAA, you lose. Just quit now before you're completely humiliated in a court for suing a four year old.

posted by Steve @ 10:27:00 AM

10:27:00 AM

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