By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — If you haven’t filled out your gift list for the children in your life yet, you have my sympathy. Things may be a bit hectic at the toy stores today.

Listen to Jon’s commentary

And your last-minute shopping may be complicated by the news that you might be risking disappointment by picking up anything low-tech.

According to the New York Times, a survey of a thousand parents found two-thirds of them are giving their two to ten year olds a smartphone or tablet for Christmas. They note the title of a recent cover story in Manhattan Family magazine about what to buy your kids this season: “Smarter Giving with Apps!”

It seems this boom in high-tech “toys” for small children is coming at the expense of more traditional toys, sales of which are flat.

Quick: what’s the hot toy of this holiday season, like Tickle Me Elmo once was? There isn’t one.

This trend toward gadget play might be an app-alling cause for alarm, if it weren’t for the apparent backlash against it.

The Times goes on to report that sales of the Easy Bake Oven are strong, and Hot Wheels are selling well. Barbie still flies off the shelves, and even my toy-industry lookalike, Mr. Potato Head, is still marketable.

“There’s a mind-set in a lot of young moms that a physical toy is a good thing,” says the dean of the Vanderbilt School of Management. “It’s almost a backlash to the popularity of the app.”

Right on, moms, and backlashing dads as well.

The new technology is great for teens and adults with well-developed imaginations to communicate and learn.

But little kids are different.

They don’t need gadgets that fill in all the blanks and draw them into a virtual world where most of the imagining has been done for them.

Kids can make a fantastic toy out of an empty box.

They don’t need to be boxed out of their childhoods by creativity-stifling gifts from well-meaning grown-ups.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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