The buzz surrounding the Apple iPod is now so pervasive that the under 10s are snapping them up in droves.

New figures from market research firm NPD shows that one third of all MP3 players in the US are now owned by the under-10s, with the iPod grabbing a majority 54 per cent stake. The iPod nano is the most popular model.

The stats from October 2007 have been spun by advertising trade paper AdAge as a great opportunity for tech companies who want to reach brand new customers. The problem is the little kids are hard to fool.

Gimmicky MP3 players aimed specifically at children don't do as well as 'grown-up' players like the iPod that make the kids feel adult and cool, AdAge says. So MP3 player-makers needs to take these lessons on board, and develop players that meet children's needs or supply other accessories such as earbuds aimed at little ears.

Happy little shoppers?

Of course many of the MP3 players that the under-10s actually own are hand-me-downs from older siblings or parents who've moved on from iPod nanos and iPod videos to the iPhone and iPod touch.

AdAge also says that although Apple is unlikely to target rugrats directly, it already offers plenty of kid-friendly content on the iTunes Store. It has recently added two short Wallace And Gromit movies, for example.

Luckily the latest version of iTunes also comes in with built-in parental controls that enable you to either limit what your kids can download (explicit material, for example) or deny them access to the store altogether.

[via Macworld UK]