Smartphones Hurt Toy Sales This Holiday Season

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I remember being horrified years ago when I learned how many of my daughter’s pre-school classmates were being given Benadryl by their mothers just to get them to bed earlier. I felt this was abusive parental behavior. I really wanted to call the cops.

When I questioned a few of the mothers about their actions they tried to weasel out of it by saying they wanted the evenings to themselves after a whole day of caring for their children. These are the same women who couldn’t wait to get married, quit their jobs, and have kids.

Turn the clock forward about 28 years. Benadryl is no longer being used to calm the kids down as much. This drug has been replaced by iPhones and iPads. In the last year or two, parents are discovering that small and large digital devices are great soothing companions for young children. The same first time parents who swore to me that they would never allow their children to watch TV because they wanted them to develop their imaginations, just got their kids iPad minis for Chanukah and Christmas.

While I laughed myself silly behind their backs, I was quite pleased that they are encouraging their children to be a part of the digital revolution. An early child educator recently told me that gadgets and smart phones provide excellent creative stimulation while also helping to develop reading and motor skills.

I must say more and more parents are discovering that the positive side of the digital revolution far outweighs their so called isolation concerns. In fact the toy industry admitted that they had heavy competition this holiday season from digital products.

Here is a quote from the New York Times article linked above:

A recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between 2 and 10 found that more than half planned to buy a tech item for their children this holiday season. About two-thirds of those planned to give a tablet or smartphone, according to the survey, which was taken for PBS Kids, the brand of the public broadcasting network aimed at young children.

I am very happy to see that smart phones and tablets have replaced drugs for children. I wonder if these same adult children of today will be as kind to us when they become our caregivers.

Appy News

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If you watched the video I posted yesterday from Mashable, the tech blog, about International CES, you would know that smartphone apps are going to have a much stronger presence at the show. I am thrilled because apps make our lives so much easier.

There is even going to be a “appy hour” for everyone to meet each other. How cute is that?

The world of apps is amazing. What did we do before them? Some of them were available in hand-held devices. Now we carry one small unit that does it all.

A few days ago I saw a former client at the Miami International Airport when I was about to board my flight back to New York. Shane Samole, CEO of Excalibur Electronics, used to produce hand-held gadgets that did a lot of what we get now right on our smartphones apps, like word and sports games, dictionaries, mind teasers, and children’s activities. We never thought back then that all these little devices would be replaced by software on our cells.

Samole is now involved in the next evolution of consumer products but he wouldn’t reveal any details. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.

Meanwhile, thanks to Mashable, here is a preview of some of the apps we are going to see at International CES. Read the list and then click here to find out more about each app. Some of these are mindblowers. Most of them are available on all mobile phone formats.

1. Match Paint Colors

2. Use Your Phone as a Level

3. Start Your Car

4. Measure Stuff Using Your Camera Lens

5. Create Blueprints (or Design Your Dream Room)

6. Visualize Your Home Using Augmented Reality

7. Monitor Your Heart Rate

8. Use Your Phone as a Remote Control

9. Change the Color of Your Lightbulbs

10. Program Your DVR Remotely

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PRINTED NEWSPAPERS SO PASSE’

 If you are still reading a newspaper in print form, then you don’t know what you are missing. To all those print loyalists who tell me they love the feel of the paper between their fingers, I say “phooey.” 

 Get with it. By the time you read a story in print it is already outdated. Digital versions of that same story are constantly being updated with newer angles, deeper links that provide backup testimonials and a list of related stories for cross referencing. 

The digital version of your favorite newspaper is also going to encourage you to read sections of the newspaper that you never read before. Electronic editions provide capsule listings of each and every story so you will be able to see a snapshot view of the entire paper. You will find yourself clicking on articles that were buried in the print versions. Now everything is front and center. 

 If that is not enough, many newspapers now feature videos that either are visual presentations of the story or a behind the scene’s look at the making of the article. 

 Digital news is all about the story in the making as much as the final story. When I first heard about this new trend in digital reporting, I admit that it made no sense to me. I decided to ask a group of younger folks their take on it. 

Much to my surprise they said that is how twitter works. First someone in their group reports a news breaking story. Then a stream of tidbits are posted by others until the whole story unravels. I asked what if the story is inaccurate because it is not being reported by a professional news reporter? The answer was simple. That is all part of the story. 

 I truly urge everyone who is still reading print to put down that dirty, disgusting, ink stained paper. Digital news is going to open up a whole new world for you. For the first time ever, you are going to carry the entire newspaper right in your pocket.  Just whip out your smartphone  (or even your tablet)and start reading.