Tech Digest (via Ewan McIntosh) carries a report that 7 year old girls are 'addicted to' (ie prefer) Nintendo DSs over traditional toys such as Barbie. My (5 year old) daughter has one and this certainly rings true for her. Games such as Pet Hotel, Ponyz, Dogz and Absolutely Anything to do With Animalz (okay I made that last one up), are great fun, and as I've blogged before, they keep her entertained at restaurants.
But I've noticed something else recently, and that is since having a DS, she plays with her physical toys much more. She has never been that keen on playing with toys, but now spends hours engrossed in imaginative games. It's TV that has taken the hit in terms of attention. She doesn't bother with this much at all now (Spongebob Squarepants aside that is). Now this is a sample of one, and going on the basis of correlation, which every first year scientist knows doesn't imply causality (although sadly, no politician knows this), so is not likely to win me a research award. But here's a mini-theory - the interaction with the DS promotes the notion of interactivity as a whole. She then maps this onto her toys and finds that they offer a different, but equally engaging form of interaction. There is then a positive feedback loop between the Nintendo, where she gets to care for ponies and receive feedback, and her toys, where she plays with ponies in an imaginary world. The TV then looks a poor third amongst these.