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If parents are perplexed by the behavior of their kids (especially the little kids), they may feel some relief from the fact that showbiz congloms have been scrupulously++ studying the wee ones--and they don't understand them either.
There is a new generation, aged 2-12, who have been immersed in media practically from the womb. The result is a change in serf-image and relationships that marketers call KGOY, or "kids getting older younger."
The phenomenon is confounding Hollywood, which has been wooing children with formulas that have worked for decades. But they don't always work any more.
A decade ago, plush toys for "The Lion King" contributed an estimated $1 billion in pure profit to Disney. And the toys subtly encouraged kids to see the film again and again--and to get their parents to buy the video.
But dolls, action figures and stuffed animals that once were targeted at 8- to 10-year-olds are now selling mostly to tots under the age of 6. Kids older than that are increasingly going for digitized entertainments--Web sites, videogames, DVDs and iPods. With a smaller target audience, toy sales are slipping. For example, action figures plummeted 9% last year, while youth electronics soared by an astounding 22%.
Kids always get obsessed. But instead of getting obsessed with the coolest toy available, they're increasingly spending their time customizing their MySpace pages and asking for digital cameras and cell phones. Even infant play mats come equipped with MP3 players. Tykes don't want to be passively entertained. They are customizing their entertainment, …