Like a lot of boys, Xavier Tomalik loves his Legos. The Renton 9 year old builds imaginary worlds with Batman, but not the ways his dad did.
A true child of the digital age, Xavier is using Legos as building blocks for a bridge into the Digital Age. Xavier also makes stop-action videos with a digital camera that he posts on YouTube, using his mom's iPad. So, you can imagine what's topping his Christmas list this year.
“I tell my mom, I want an iPad! I want an iPad! I want an iPad! But she always says no,” said Xavier.
A recent survey by Nielsen shows 48% of children between 6 and 12 years old listing iPads as their number one request for Christmas this year. Of course, there is a big difference between want and need. iPads cost $300 to $700. And giving a child a portable computer, TV and just about everything else all in one, makes Xavier’s mom nervous.
“You want to make them happy,” said Christine Tomalik, Xavier's mom. “But at the same time you want to make sure they use it properly.”
If you buy in, mobile tech marketer Mike Matthews advises parents to steer kids toward cool apps that engage kids creatively, educationally and artistically. For example, the same way you'd stick a kid's drawing up on the fridge, you can now e-mail a digital paint-by-number creation to the family.
“Look at the interests of the child -- whether it's drawing, taking photos, making videos -- and embrace that. They'll spend a lot more time doing those things than playing video games or Angry Birds,” he said.
Matthews lists some popular apps and tips for parents at his web site www.themobileculture.com.
As for Xavier and his mom, he's keeping the pressure on.
“She's saving for it, I know! I know she's getting me an iPad," he said.