Tech Toys for Tots

If you ask 5-year-old Gavin O'Farrell what's hot at Toys "R" Us, his answer may surprise you.

It's not the fuzzy toys or the sports equipment or even the Lego sets.

"The electronic games," the pint-size consumer told us.

He then specified, "I want two Leapsters, Mom."

Many of the hottest sellers this year are tech toys -- for kids as young as 2.

Some of these must-haves include a digital camera shaped like a giant eyeball, a starter computer and a machine that connects to kid-friendly Web sites.

For many kids, the make-believe versions just don't cut it anymore.

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Three-year-old Christian Aldrich has a real iPod.

His mother, Lorraine, appeared to justify the purchase: "He knows how to use it better than my husband."

Whatever happened to the regular old stuffed animal?

Prescott Carlson, who runs a parenting Web site and has a 4-year-old with an MP3 player, said kids are just imitating their wired parents.

"It's almost like high-tech dress-up," he said.

This may also explain why toy cell phones are hot sellers this year -- even if kids are just using it to call Grandma.

Some child psychologists worry that tech toys don't fire the imagination the way old-fashioned ones did.

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The mother of Leapster-toting Gavin O'Farrell said, "They're used to everything being so quick and -- you know -- flashing at them. Would they be better if they sat in their rooms with stuffed animals? Maybe."

But in this tech-saturated age, kids like Gavin will have a tough time avoiding these toys that may not fire the imagination but that certainly dominate their wish lists this holiday season.

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