12/10/2013 10:24 am ET Updated Feb 09, 2014

Texting Santa

Forget the traditional handwritten letter to Santa Claus, walked to the mailbox, and sent off in time for the elves in time to process for the big guy. Unless Jolly Saint Nick has a 5S, chances are he won't be bringing your kid what he wants this year.

You see, every year I eagerly awaited my kids' letters to Santa, as I saw them not only as a window into my children's minds and souls, but a clear reflection on my parenting -- like the year my daughter most wanted a family friend to be cured of a terminal illness or when I could finally decipher son's handwriting (and got him a baseball glove and not a baseball stove). But so much for all that...

"Mom, do you think Santa takes PowerPoint?" my 10-year old daughter cheerily asked one night, popping her head into my bedroom.

"Um, I'm not sure..." I hesitated, wondering where global parenting experts might land on Santa's tech savviness.

"Well," she added, "I put in clickable links in case." And (I'm fairly certain) skipped off.

How very thoughtful. In fact, she had organized the presentation by "most wanted," "nice to have" and "I'd love but not really necessary." She also listed stores and price points. I've had college interns with less refined skills.

Turns out my daughter is not alone. At my company Trendera, we conduct hundreds of focus groups and quantitative surveys among 8- to 45-year-olds, and as I started querying our panelists in groups and studies, it turns out these days tweens and teens are turning to tech to make their holiday desires known.

Tweens are turning to Instagram in droves to post their must-haves with hashtags of #gimmesanta or #wishlist for Nike shoes, iPad Minis, and Brandy Melville clothing. Why write a letter when a picture is worth a thousand gifts? Over on, girls are making boards of items they covet, from British-themed purses and scarves to wedge sneakers and One Direction gear (yes, still). Similarly, the app Wanelo (short for Want Need Love) also allows teens to make their boards and easily forward them to family and friends for easy buying. There is even a Facebook app that Canon recently made called North Pole PIXMA that lets kids send wishes directly to Santa's work shop. And though Pinterest hasn't been as overrun by tweens as other social media, it is easy to find kids boards aptly titled "What I want for Christmas."

Perhaps I should just be grateful that my 12-year-old son still humors me and recently sent me a text that said, "Um, could you please let Santa know that I want the following for Christmas..."

So I guess the big question for kids then is no longer "Is there a Santa?" but "Does he have an iPhone or a Droid?"