e-kids and iPOD, iPAD & PS

On weekend mornings, it's become an unwritten ritual for Poonam and Naveen Shetty to read out stories on their iPad to their son Atharva, 7. Story narration over, Atharva is allowed to play games of his choice on the iPad for about an hour. Gone are the days when parents would read out from the Panchatantra. Today , practically every activity related to children is done on laptops, Macs or iPads.

Atharva and his friends prefer to sit on their bean bags and play football, cricket or even baseball on their PlayStation, in the comfort of an air-conditioned home, rather than go out in the sun and drain themselves: they aren't ordinary kids, they are e-kids !

"It isn't that I don't like to go out and play, but PlayStation games are great fun. I enjoy it a lot because I don't need a friend. I can simply play by myself," says Atharva.

Poonam, too, doesn't mind her son spending time on the PlayStation. "I get tense when Atharva steps out of the house. He is very hyper and capable of injuring himself. If he's at home, I'm at peace," explains Poonam!

Gizmos have become so child-friendly that the market is flooded with software specially designed for children.

iPods and iPads, which have become children's best friends, have inbuilt App Stores that help users download about 5 lakh applications from iTunes. "Children prefer downloading Angry Birds, Paint Brush, Disney creatures etc. and play. It's easy and great fun," said a trader.

"Children mostly prefer games and music. Applications which are helpful for school projects are in demand. But when it comes to computers , parents prefer to buy desktops over laptops for children," said Praveen Mehta, owner of Computer Warehouse.

But when you buy what your child wants, it is equally important to keep a watch on their activities . Says Darshan Nayak, a software professional : "I am always around when my sons operate the iPad at home. Once, when my son Aditya was searching for a cartoon character, the image of a semi-nude woman popped up. My son was embarrassed, and then on, I decided to monitor him and my younger son," said Darshan.

Darshan is also alert on the use of facebook and G-talk by his sons. "Children are very innocent . They don't know the disadvantages of overexposure of social networking sites. So I make sure they use it only for networking," he said.

Although kids are still kids, they have i-volved . A survey done by Turner International on children below 14 years of age, throws up some interesting statistics about children and technology . The national-level survey indicates that children are increasingly interacting online, are more informed and influential.

It also reveals that Bangalore stands at number two in the country, with 46% kids owning mobile phones. IT City also ranks third on the chart when it comes to the availability of diverse technology like mobile phones, iPods, MP3, internet, computers and DVD players at homes.

Indicating the increase in awareness about hi-tech stuff among kids, the survey further indicates that there's been a surge in the number of children using the technology. There were only 17% below the age of 14 that had access to mobile phones 10 years ago. The share reached 59% after five years and the latest survey in 2011 shows that 92% of the same sample size today has access to mobile phones.

On the internet, it's children who are teaching parents. As many as 48% of the sample size below 14 years of age use the internet, whereas only 23% of parents are comfortable with the technology. The survey further states that 50%-75 % of parents consult their kids below the age of 14, while purchasing cars and computers.

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