Mattel started selling a new "Barbie Girls" MP3 doll this week, in an attempt to get hip to a generation immersed in technology. About three months ago, Barbie launched a new virtual world for girls online to compete with likes of Club Penquin (recently bought by Disney) and Webkinz, maker of plush toys. Barbie's new MP3 player is designed to buoy that virtual world effort and resuscitate flagging sales of its traditional glamor doll. Barbie Girls are handheld MP3 players that can be accessorized like a doll and used to unlock special animations, make friends and shop … Read more
If you're not a parent, you might not see the immediate value in a pair of headphones designed especially for kids. But if you have progeny of iPod-bearing age--which will soon come before they're crawling, at this rate--then the need for Mad Catz's "AirDrive" headphones is all too clear.
Anyone who's been forced to endure a multi-hour car ride with children aboard knows that they'll never hear you, or anything else for that matter, because they generally keep the volume on their MP3 and DVD players turned up somewhere between 9 and 10. … Read more
Parents feeding their babies a steady media diet of DVDs such as Baby Einstein might want to reconsider. A new study from researchers at the University of Washington reports an unfavorable link between heavy media intake by babies less than two years old and slow language development.
In fact, the study reports that every hour infants and toddlers spend watching DVDs or TV shows such as Barney translates into a weaker score on standardized vocabulary tests than children who don't watch media. Every hour of screen time turns into six to eight words lost on the test, according to … Read more
Download a photo screensaver, and potentially save a missing child. That's the message from the child-safety group behind the Amber Alert system.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) released in the last week a "Missing Kid Saver," downloadable software for people running most Windows operating systems. The application will draw on idle computer power to display updated news, information and photos on missing or abducted children from the NCMEC.
The software is opt-in, and it takes a page from the nonprofit's wireless initiative, in which people sign up to get Amber Alerts via … Read more
Toy makers have made good progress in robots and pretty much anything with a remote, but they've never quite been able to figure out computers for tots. Usually they're just toy laptops with lame black-and-white screens that are barely legible, making them kind of like fancy Etch A Sketches with some flashing lights and a mouse.
The latest offering from Fisher-Price, the "Easy Link Internet Launch Pad," takes a different approach. Rather than just try to look like a notebook for kids, it's a plug-and-play navigation device that works with any regular computer with a … Read more
Teens who are most active online and influential with peers are also the kids most concerned about the environment, according to a study published Monday by research firm JupiterResearch. So-called green teens are slightly more engaged in a number of activities than the average 13-year-old to 17-year-old, according to the report. (Of the teens surveyed, 38 percent said they were worried about the environment, and 15 percent said they were highly concerned about it.)
Green teens are more apt to listen to music, post a personal page online, respond to an online poll or converse in a chat room, according … Read more
Did it ever occur to you that light switches could be warm and cuddly? No, I didn't think so either, but apparently nothing's impossible these days. This Essential Wall Dimmer, which retails for $99, looks a bit like a fuzzy caterpillar but promises to actually turn your lights on and off.
Here's how it works: give it a nice little stroke, and its "Plush Touch Screening Technology" will turn the light on or off, or dim it to suit your personal illumination preferences. Simple as that--at least it's supposed to work that way.
The … Read more
Fans of Wallace and Gromit, get ready to say "cheeeeeese."
Aardman Animations, the creators of the British animated duo, on Tuesday launched a virtual world for kids called WebbliWorld. In true Aardman fashion, the site is graphically rich and whimsical, letting kids create their own Webbli character, play games, earn "Webbles" or surf Web sites like the Dinosaur Directory.
The site has an eco-bent, too. According to Aardman, which teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund: "Our friendly characters introduce important topics such as the environment, climate change and recycling in an accessible and memorable … Read more
A team of researchers has developed a computer program that can learn to decipher sounds the way a baby does.
The impetus behind the program was to better understand how people learn to talk, or more specifically, to see whether language is hard-wired in the brain.
Tests of the computer model back up a theory that babies learn to speak by sorting through different sounds until they understand the structure of a language, according to James McClelland, a psychology professor at Stanford University who wrote a paper on the subject that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of … Read more
Don't tell mainstream marketers this, but text-messaging promotions can work.
At least for Virgin Mobile, which used the power of its network of 5 million mobile customers to raise money and awareness for homeless children in America. (There are an estimated 1.2 million to 2.8 million children and teens who are homeless in the United States.) In partnership with the nonprofit YouthNoise, among others, Virgin Mobile urged its customers, via text message, to donate $1 from their account to help homeless kids by sending the word "donate" to the short-code 66473 (or "noise"). … Read more