Any parent that owns a smartphone knows that as soon as their child sees it they want a go, and the app makers know this too and have made many many apps for babies, toddler, preschoolers and beyond.
The iPad simply took this further with bigger more interactive apps like the App Mates a special app where you actually use a car on the screen to drive around. I have a small boy with a major Lightnight McQueen addiction and as much as I know he would be amazed by this I just don’t think that my nerves would take it!
But there is no denying that children love gadgets nearly as much as we do.
Before I start to talk about the gadgets though I would point out, I am fully aware that pre-schoolersdo not need gadgets to learn, play and have fun. At the moment Ben plays on the iPad only in the mornings in bed with me pre 7 a.m. (and after 6.15am when the sun comes up on the gro-clock) He plays a mix of educational and fun apps.
I see allowing children to use the available technology with boundaries the same as using the tv, there are limits on the content and the time allowed to view/play. And they are only a small part of their education and fun time.
This year has seen the release of 2 tablet like systems designed especially for children.
Both are around £79.99 but with many places like E.L.C. doing 20% off discounts they can be bought for around £63.99
There is a really good comparison of the 2 here and here and after reading that I think if I had to choose between the 2 it would be the innotab. But after much reading and debating it in my mind, if to start with I want him to even have his own and then which one I started to have doubts over the 2 of them. I have to admit I haven’t seen either in real life, only read reviews and watched videos but I have a few concerns
- The battery – 4 batteries that need replacing/recharging and from the reviews it is hard on them, this for me is a faff. I like to charge things up and go, my iPhone and iPad get charged over night for the next day.
- How quickly will they respond to touch – Ben is used to using an iPad and iPhone and these 2 do not have the same technology, they are aimed at children and are slower to respond with less sensitive screens. It is possible that he wouldn’t get frustrated but after seeing that the camera app takes 12 seconds to go from touching to starting knowing a 3 year old and patience…well you guess the rest.
- How long will it keep his interest? – These are aimed at 4-9 year olds but I am not sure it will last for 5 years, more the interest in it rather than the apps.
- Compatibility – The innotab allows an SD card and does play mp4 format video files but the LeapPad will only play video files recorded on it, so won’t be any use to transfer a DVD onto.
- Price of games and apps – Games for the innotab are around £24.99 and apps are apparently a few pounds (although I couldn’t find any details of these exactly.) For the LeapPad apps are from £5-15 and games around £19.99 each
So I am going to throw option 3 into the mix.. a 2nd hand iPod Touch.
At the moment on eBay you can get a 2nd gerneration iPod touch for around £50
The 2nd generation ones don’t have a camera and you can’t update them to ios 5 9just to get that out the way!)
But if you are already an iFamily and have apps for your child on your iPod/iPad/iPhone then you will be able to put these straight onto a new iPod Touch for no cost.
Is it insane to give a child such a delicate thing? For me I think it is about 2 things, the cover and a child learning respect. The right cover will protect a lot and I think that Ben needs to know, if he throws it or is not careful and it breaks that will be the end of it.
The compatibility of music and video files is not an issue as I already have various films and tv shows on the iPad & iPhone so again just a case of putting them onto the iPod. I feel it is also a gadget that will grow with him.
The charging issue is also not a problem as I have not only the normal plug in chargers but 2 clock radios that charge and play apple devices at home and the major bonus I have is for the car an intergrated charger to the stereo that will play his music/stories from the iPod over the stereo.
So if I add £10 for a good cover for the iPod it will be the same cost as the other 2.
So is that my mind made up then?
No! My one concern is that he would love one of the 2 child ones as they are bright coloured and different than what we already have. But I am not sure that is enough to sway me. He would be getting this as a present for his Christmas present & birthday (start of Jan) and it seems like a lot of being 4.
I will report back when I have made up my mind!