Gadgets for Techie Kids

Ana Picazo
September 20, 2010

To many parents, the word video games conjures up dark, loud rooms with flashing lights, mindless, violent graphics, and sallow, unhealthy children glued to a screen. But this is 2010, and video games have come a long way since Pong, Space Invaders and Grand Theft Auto. The video gaming market has expanded considerably to include family-friendly, educational games for children as young as three or four. Over the last decade, companies like Leapfrog and VTech have perfected the art of creating educational electronic entertainment that tiny techies love to play with. Hey, if Sesame Street taught the children of the 70s their ABCs, why can't electronic gaming devices do the same for the children of the 21st century? Here are two to check out:

Leapster Explorer
Leapfrog's next-generation Leapster educational toy, the Explorer, offers multiple ways for kids to play and learn. It's a gaming device, an e-book reader, a video player and (with separate accessory) a camera, all in one device.  It has a bright, big touchscreen display so kids can easily navigate their way through all the games.  Parents can purchase age-appropriate game cartridges (or download games online) that teach skills in a variety of areas such as shape recognition, ABC's, numbers, reading, spelling, math. The games are fun, many with characters that kids know and love, and offer a mix of traditional gaming features (For example, Star Wars characters swinging at fireballs with their lightsabers) with educational components for example, having to identify numbers or solve addition problems in order to progress in the game). Children can also connects their Explorer online to play online games that connect to their on-the-go play.  Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog Learning Path to see what their child is playing and learning, and explore Leapfrog's tips and suggestions to expand their child's learning journey.

VTech MobiGo
Doesn't it seem like young children always prefer the real car keys to the plastic toy ones, and the real cell phones to the clunky, colorful play phones? With VTech's latest teaching tool, the MobiGo Touch Learning System, you won't have to worry about your child monopolizing your smart phone, because it looks like an actual phone. The touch screen display and slide-out QWERTY keyboard will have your little one feeling like a grownup and mimicking the way you use your own touch-screen devices in no time.  Yet it's still kid-friendly; it's bright and colorful, and rimmed in sturdy plastic to break the inevitable fall or scratch.  Parents can purchase a wide range of educational games: from fishing, coloring book pages, drawing and playing instruments, kids can discover a wide variety of fun and engaging learning games. The games teach a wide range of skills including math, vocabulary, spelling, logic and categorization, and they're labelled according to age range so you can purchase the right game for your child.

From the Parents

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