NEW YORK -- Make room in the toy box for the iPad.
Crayola allows tots to doodle on the iPad using its iMarker just as they would a crayon on a coloring book. Tweens are able to belt out their favorite Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez tunes on a Disney microphone that turns the tablet into a karaoke machine. And technology accessories company Griffin enables teens to fly its toy helicopter by using the iPhone as a remote control.
This holiday season, toy makers have turned Apple Inc.'s pricey tablet and smartphone into playthings for kids. They figure in this weak economy, parents will be willing to splurge on toys for their children that utilize devices they already have -- or want -- themselves.
Tiffany Fessler of Gainsville, Ga., certainly was willing to do that even though when she initially bought her $829 iPad, she never imagined she'd be sharing it with her 20-month-old son. But whenever she sat down to check emails on the iPad, he'd climb into her lap wanting to use it.
So, Fessler decided to get him the $29.99 Crayola iMarker, which transforms the iPad into a digital coloring book using a Crayola's free ColorStudio HD application that parents can download. Kids can draw and color using the iMarker, which has a soft tip so it doesn't scratch the tablet's glass screen.
"When you have a screaming toddler in a restaurant or any public area, you want to have something to calm him down with," said Fessler, 39. "This is just another way to keep him entertained."
The iPad and iPhone are among the most coveted electronics this holiday season among kids. About 44 percent of 6- to 12-year-olds want the iPad this year, according to a survey by research firm Nielsen. The iPod touch came in the No. 2 spot with 30 percent, followed by the iPhone at 27 percent.
Not to mention, nearly 40 percent of 2-to 4-year-olds have used a smartphone, iPad or video iPod, according to a survey by nonprofit group Common Sense Media.