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Toys R Us targets kids with safer Meep tablet PC

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Toys R Us Japan announced Friday that it will start selling a tablet computer designed for children next week, saying it is a promising market with plenty of room for growth.

“We believe kids tablets will be the big trend (in Japan) this year,” Paul Winslow, vice president of merchandising at Toys R Us Japan, said at a news conference in Tokyo.

Winslow said the Meep tablet will be the first in Japan targeted at kids. Aimed at children aged 6 and above, it will hit store shelves next Friday for ¥14,999.

It has been on sale in the United States since September.

Kids already play around with tablets like Apple’s iPad, but Winslow stressed the need for kid-safe tablets. The Internet can be a useful educational tool for children but can also pose dangers as well, he said.

“Parents are well aware of the dangers and want a device to help supervise their child’s online activity,” and the Meep will meet those needs, Winslow said.

Parents can access a parental control system through their own PC or other devices to monitor their children’s Internet activities, including what sites they visit, on the Meep. The feature includes the power to set how much time they can use each application or play each game. The unit also prevents children from viewing harmful websites.

The tablet has a 7-inch screen and is powered by Google’s Android 4.0 operating system.

Winslow said the Meep is also sturdier than other tablets, which often suffer from cracked screens when dropped.

He said tablets for kids were especially popular last Christmas in the U.S. and Europe, and they will be a hit here as well, given their rapid growth here in recent years.