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Kidding Around Kids aren't just our future--they're fueling a billion-dollar market that has nowhere to go but up.

By Lori Francisco

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Everywhere you turn these days, there's something aboutGeneration Y. You've read enough studies about this new wave ofkid consumers to know they're the hot new market, andyou're excited because you think you have a good grasp of whatthey want.

But do you? The one thing you must understand about theboomers' children's market: This group, the "echoboom," is growing up in very different times and,consequently, has very different needs. It's not enough to handthem a Barbie and a box of Legos, or sit them in front of a guy ina dinosaur suit. Kids today are more sophisticated than that.They'd rather surf the Net or chat online, play the newestNintendo 64 game, or see the latest sci-fi action flick."There's a lot going on in our society that's reallydriving [the market]," says Peter Sillsbee, senior projectdirector of the Roper Youth Report at Roper StarchWorldwide. "Kids today are growing up in single-parent homesor homes where both parents are working. The percentages for bothhave actually doubled over the past 25 years."

As a result, kids now have more influence over family purchases.With their own hectic schedules to juggle, parents rely on kids tobe part of the decision-making process. With so much access toinformation right at their fingertips, today's typical kids arealso a lot more knowledgeable about the products on the market,from clothes to technology.