NEW YORK -- If you suspect that kids today are growing up too fast, next
week's American International Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention
Center may be all the proof you need.
In keeping with the general trend toward "age compression" or KGOY
(industry shorthand for "kids getting older younger"), toy manufacturers
will be introducing a host of adult technologies aimed at small children
-- including kid-friendly laptops, graphics tablets, digital cameras and
a host of other high-tech items.
Consumer electronics for kids is the fastest growing trend in the $22
billion toy industry. With children becoming ever more tech savvy at
ever-younger ages, toymakers are scrambling to capitalize on the rapidly
growing market for youth electronics.
"We've been seeing kids are getting comfortable at a scary age," says
Richard Vincent, CEO and creative director of Kutoka Interactive, which
will be introducing a line of colorful optical mice designed just for
Vincent initially thought toddlers wouldn't have the motor skills to
manipulate adult peripherals, but that hasn't been a problem.
"We've seen 2-year-olds doing very well, and it's unnerving," he says.
Along with its optical mice, Kutoka will also have a line of digital
cameras and graphics tablets produced by French toy giant Smoby and
aimed specifically at children. Each device will come bundled with its
own software, custom-tailored to young users.
The $55 Technokids Graphic Tablet, for example, features Click & Create
With Mia -- a kind of Photoshop for tots that teaches kids to draw,
paint and animate shapes on screen, and allows them to create posters,
invitations and birthday cards.
"You have a lot of the concepts behind Photoshop, but it's also a
project program," says Vincent.
Similarly, the software that comes with Smoby's digital cameras allows
children to morph, label and organize their images, then e-mail them to