With all the talk about the first generation of "digital natives" -- kids who grew up surrounded by computers, smartphones and other tech gadgets -- let's not forget the millions of moms who raised these children. Happy Mother's Day to tech-savvy moms.
There are more than 82 million moms in the U.S., and they wield a lot of influence when it comes to buying tech-based products -- moms are involved in 89 percent of all consumer electronics purchase decisions.
Not so long ago, tech devices targeted at women were sold a lot like clothing -- in girl-friendly colors and patterns like the hot pink Asus netbook, external drive and case "ensemble" showcased at CES 2009. And the more designer-like, the more expensive. But women didn't fork over premiums for pretty casings.
"I think marketers have woken up to the fact that women actually understand what these devices are and care about performance and value," said Kate Muhl Allendoerfer, an analyst at Iconoclast. "They don't have to be romanced into getting a device."
For moms, a device is not an accessory like a handbag, it's a portal to what she wants to do. And she's doing a lot. Over a decade, Mom's time with the Internet has soared. She is logging well over 2.5 hours per day online, compared with 53 minutes in 2002, according to a new Edison Research and Arbitron study, "Moms and Media 2012." She banks online, shops online and connects with friends online. Moms check their Facebook pages more than twice as often as dads.
Her go-to device? The smartphone.
"A lot of moms have handed down their laptops to their kids," Kate said. "Their first device is their phone." While Kate (a mom herself) said she's bummed out by the research that says women are still doing all those plate-juggling cliches like getting up to care for someone in the middle of the night and carrying their work stress home and vice versa, the smartphone has smoothed their chopped-up days.
More than 60 percent of moms own a smartphone -- an increase of 70 percent over Edison's results from last year's study -- and significantly higher than the average ownership rate of 44 percent. And twice as many moms own both a smartphone and a tablet, compared to women without kids. Moms also lead in the use of social media. They make more comments, like more things and have more friends than dads.
"It's really about the relationship, not the device," Kate said. "Women just do more. They get more back from liking things and networking in that way."
While today's moms did not grow up with the Web and social media, they have become "tech native-ish," and have enthusiastically embraced new technologies, Kate said.
What's on the top of mom's list this Mother's Day? Hands down, it's an iPad. About a third of moms said they wanted a tech gadget, beating out more traditional gifts such as flowers, dining out and jewelry by a wide margin, in a survey conducted by TechBargains, an online deal site. And iPads topped that list, named by nearly 60 percent of tech-savvy moms as their gift of choice. But that's a pretty pricey proposition -- 16GB iPad starts at $500. (Maybe the kids can all pitch in?)
A good alternative to the iPad is Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader with built-in reading light. In tests, the Nook's light was bright enough to read by, and soft enough to let a partner sleep undisturbed. Launched earlier this month, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is priced at $139.
But you could also give mom a great gift that doesn't cost a dime. Introduce her to a new site that you use and she'll love. If you're fortunate enough to live nearby, do it in person. Otherwise, you can do it over the phone. I recently got my mom set up on Instagram. She's an avid gardener and I knew she'd enjoy sharing her flowers with her friends. Now we can all see her stunning azaleas in full bloom.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org.