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Christmas gifts in the digital age

Toys, leftover fruitcake, department store Santas, toy store mobs, last minute shoppers, enormous light displays and faith restored — it's all part of the rich tradition of Christmas. Over the years, CBC Radio and Television have documented the spiritual and material aspects of the ever-evolving Christmas holiday. 'Tis the joyous, and sometimes maddening, season of giving.

"For Christmas, I want a PS2 game." "An electric guitar." "I want a new computer." For the kids at a Calgary mall in 2004, there's no uncertainty about what makes a good Christmas gift. But in this new era of digital playthings with equal appeal for adults and kids, is it appropriate to abandon dolls and building sets for iPods and cellphones? In this CBC Radio clip, Anna Maria Tremonti asks a toy historian as well as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whether digital toys are changing childhood.
• The target age of digital music consumers continues to move downwards. For the 2008 holiday shopping season, the Canadian Toy Testing Council chose the SweetPea3 MP3 player as its battery-operated toy of the year. Encased in durable soft rubber, the portable digital music player has just three buttons and a speaker but no headphones. It is designed for children from newborn to six years old.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Dec. 9, 2004
Guest(s): Gary Cross, Henry Jenkins
Host: Anna Maria Tremonti
Duration: 22:35
Photo: Ben Margot/Associated Press

Last updated: December 23, 2013

Page consulted on December 23, 2013

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