“Mommy? Daddy? All I want this year is for Santa Claus to bring me a Tablet PC with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit screen that has multi-touch functionality and downloadable apps so can have my very own portable interface for all my web-based needs. Pweeeeeze?”

That’s what all the kids seem to be saying this year. Well, something like that. Apple’s iPad—an inflated version of the iPhone, sans the actual phone—has become its new flagship piece of technology this holiday season and has made its way to the number-one spot on every child’s electronics wish list, according to the latest Nielsen survey. Their findings show that when choosing from among the most popular consumer electronics available this year, kids in the U.S. between the ages of 6 and 12 would prefer to have an iPad nestled safely under their tree on Christmas morn’.

The product’s overall popularity comes as little or no surprise when you think about the marketing power behind each of Apple’s high-tech top-sellers, but the fact that the age group holding it in such high demand is so unexpectedly young definitely prompts a raised eyebrow. Then again, maybe not. Console video game systems are typically successful holiday sellers, and with mobile devices now offering increasingly user-friendly interfaces along with an array of media and gaming applications, it may have only been a matter of time before kids started latching on to the trend.

Apple’s wunderkind device is generating a definite spark of interest these days among children and young adults, and this is due in no small part to the overwhelming number of apps now available for it. From classic single-player games like Pac Man and board games like Scrabble to an array of basic, educational offerings, the iPad caters to kids of all ages. In fact, even children as young 2 ½ years old can partake in many of its downloadable programs—just skim through this video and watch for yourself.

There’s even a large selection of interactive book applications that allows young readers to actively engage with their favorite stories. Alice for the iPad—an animated and abridged version of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland—is one such interactive title. It features page after page of colorful illustrations that sometimes respond to the reader’s touch as well as to the physical movement of the tablet itself. It’s a charming new frontier in terms of marketable reading material and it’s just one of many educational titles available.

The iPad is proving to be quite a versatile platform, so it’s really no wonder that kids seem to want one so badly. It lends itself seamlessly to the further development of educational content and to such content’s accessibility by all age groups. They may not be able to take advantage of (or even comprehend) its extensive web-browsing and networking capabilities, but at least kids can gain something truly beneficial from it. I guess the iPad is at least slightly more than just this year’s “must-have” toy.

It seems as though there’s a strong possibility that the device will retain its usefulness to younger markets in terms of both educational potential and entertainment value.

About the author

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten is a promo expert with a passion for branding . Her vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several articles and published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.