There was a time when train sets and action figures regularly claimed the top spots on kids‘ holiday wish lists. Times have changed, though, and these days, mere plastic playthings just don’t cut it — unless of course those playthings happen to include LCD screens, USB connectivity and wireless Internet access. What’s topping the wish lists of our tech-minded cyber children this holiday season? Why it’s everyone’s favorite thing they probably don’t need: the iPad.

A Nielsen study released this week shows the Apple tablet running strong in this year’s wish list power rankings among American children aged six to 12 years old. According to the report, 31 percent of kids surveyed listed the iPad as their No. 1 gift request. Computers came in a close second, followed by the iPod Touch and the Nintendo DS.

Every one of the 17 items listed as top picks among the demographic are electronic devices, with video game consoles making up the majority.

Move a little higher in age range, however, and the list begins to change, though tech maintains a dominant presence. Young adults 13-and-up listed computers as their No. 1 gift choice, televisions as their second most-desired gift and smartphones third. The iPad came in at a humbling fourth.

Perhaps Apple should take cues from Nielsen’s findings and start marketing its tablet to a younger audience. Remember those U2-themed iPods from back in the day? Well we think it would be mighty fly to sport an iPad with Elmo’s visage stamped across the back. That dude is at least as cool as Bono.