Kids’ tablets the new TV sets?

By Anne Collier

It looks like, for kids, tablets are the new TV – at least that’s the way media companies are viewing these handheld devices that kids are taking to bears to honey. When I started reading this New York Times piece about Dreamworks’s new “DreamTab,” I thought, “Shades of the days when cellphone makers made kids’ phones,” which never really took off for phone and toy makers. But this is different. It’s about content, not communications. As Dreamworks sees it, “the studio will be able to program much like a cable channel,” according to the Times.

“The partnership is a convergence of two business trends. With children as young as 2 or 3 now routinely using their parents’ iPads or smartphones — if the toddlers don’t already have their own — technology companies are racing to introduce gadgets made for smaller and smaller hands.” DreamWorks aims to get ahead of its competitors with their Disney- and Nickelodeon-branded Nabi tablets. “Neither of those offered original and exclusive programming like the DreamTab will” – or repurposed content, like Madagascar’s penguins delivering “character moments,” as DreamWorks puts it. What they’re talking about is sophisticated low-key advertainment – and other content, I guess. “The companies will try to woo parents by including educational elements,” the Times adds. Just something to make note of. It’s the new TV – buy the device, watch the ads, get content for free. Well, some content, there will be premium content or in-app purchases too.

One last thing: “The DreamTab is not a toy. Switched into parent mode, it provides roughly the same computing power as an iPad,” the Times reports. So it’s good that there’s a “parent mode” – parental controls – so parents can keep the content appropriate for the littlest tablet users.

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