How Technology Changed Christmas

uSwitch claims parents will spend an average of £99 on tech-related gifts for their children this year, but the ubiquity of Internet access and gadget advertising is pushing their little monsters towards expensive glamour brands – a far cry from the simple requests of pre-tech times. “Never mind the traditional satsuma in the stocking, children today are going to be disappointed unless there’s an Apple under the tree,” said Ernest Doku, technology advisor at uSwitch.com. “Gone are the days of Barbie and Action Man. Now kids not only want the most expensive gadgets, they also want the coolest brands.”

According to uSwitch’s research 26 per cent of five to seven year olds and 51 per cent of eight to 10 year olds have named a technology product as their most desired Christmas gift this year. Four in 10 parents say their children under 16 identify brands such as Apple, Sony and Samsung with 15 per cent of under 10s also picking them out. £99 (down on £108 in 2010) won’t cut it.

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“As they continue to feel the squeeze on their finances, mums and dads are having to draw a line under their Christmas expenditure, especially when it comes to pricey gadgets,” continues Doku. “Children as young as five are nagging them for iPhones or other gadgets which are a huge financial commitment for many parents, particularly for those with more than one child. It’s no wonder some feel like they have to turn to credit cards, dip into their savings or even make their children hold out until the January sales in order to ensure a happy home at Christmas.”

Yes services like Facebook and Twitter may be free and downloaded music, video and eBooks are often cheaper than their physical equivalent, but the devices which are a gateway to this media still come at considerable cost. Furthermore tech has become ever more intuitive – particularly with the emergence of tablets – making them usable for a wider audience, and their functionality has universal appeal. With the economy down the toilet and the pace of device upgrade cycles increasing the problem is only going to get worse as the world gets ever more tech-savvy.

But this is Christmas, doom and gloom can wait for another day because it is easy to forget the hugely positive effects technology has had and will continue to have on our lives. It connects us, educates us and entertains us; it gives us a global voice and empowers us in ways we could not have imaged even a few years ago. Furthermore it will continue to do so. The best gadgets of 2011 will be surpassed by the elite of 2012 and making smart choices will be crucial. Furthermore this Christmas it is important to remember it is not the technology which causes the confrontation, but how you use it…

In the words of a Dickens’ reformed Scrooge: “A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!”

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