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Learning Game Consoles for Young Children?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the entertainment-and-education-rolled-into-one dept.

Education 101

revco_38 asks: "My wife and I are looking into purchasing a game based learning console for our 4 year old boy this Christmas. The two front runners are the VSmile from VTech and the Leapster from Leapfrog. Does the Slashdot community have any experience with either of these products? Are there any other products similar that should be considered? We also have a 2 year old boy so something that lasts would be nice."

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Is this really a good idea? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13936010)

Isn't that the sort of age where learning social interaction would be a better bet?

Re:Is this really a good idea? (3, Informative)

macrom (537566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936714)

I seriously doubt this parent is going to substitute a preschool-aged video game system for human interaction. My daughter (3.5) is at school almost 8 hours a day. I think most kids like her get enough interaction that a bit of video game time isn't going to damage them forever.

That said, we like the VSmile a lot. The basic cartridge that it comes with has a few games on it, and she does OK with it. It took a bit of practice for her to figure out how to use the joystick properly, and she likes to hit the colored buttons just to hear the guy say them over the TV. Most games that we've played only require the joystick and the big orange button, so getting started is easy. The graphics are probably SNES quality, along with similar sound. We had to get extra carts, though, cause the one it comes with gets old fast.

The other thing I like about the VSmile is it has a portable counterpart. Think TurboGrafix 16, but for kids. We haven't purchased it yet, but I have to drive my daughter a few hours each way on my custody weekends, and that's something to help entertain her when we've played out all the Barney and Veggie Tales CDs...

One final comment -- if you get the VSmile, get the AC adapter. It takes 3C batteries, but they get eaten quickly, especially since small children are prone to turning the unit on without you knowing (and hence leaving it on for an extended period of time).

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937276)

My daughter (3.5) is at school almost 8 hours a day.

Eight hours????????????

She's only 3!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

macrom (537566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937466)

Yes, but her mother works full-time, so that's the breaks. She also lives out of town, so I or my family am not able to pick her up. It's not as bad as it sounds, since it's a school/day care. The facility is top-notch, and I and my ex-wife feel rather comfortable having her there.

That said, divorce is rough on kids, and this is just one of the side effects.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (0, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938670)

It's not as bad as it sounds, since it's a school/day care. The facility is top-notch, and I and my ex-wife feel rather comfortable having her there.

Bah. What's more important to her, her career or her child?

She also lives out of town, so I or my family am not able to pick her up.

What's more important to you, your career or your child?

That said, divorce is rough on kids, and this is just one of the side effects.

And one of the many sacrifices that parents have to make for their children is to be there for them, even when you don't get along with your spouse.

Yes, I am a father, and yes, I have been divorced.

My ex-wife worked in one of those fancy day-schools, and as an afternoon nanny for a rich 1980s high-powered dual-income couple, and let me tell you, those kids were screwed up. They needed more mother and less nanny.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13939700)

No offence but what you just said there is, according to me, so much bullshit. Just because you have shildren dos'nt mean hat you have to ruin yourself economicly and that "MEGA BULLSHIT" about:
  "be there for them, even when you don't get along with your spouse."
My parents divorced wen I was young and it felt much better without having them arguing about everything.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13939963)

Indeed. And your kids will probably benefit from not having you around to teach them how to debate or spell.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13942346)

"be there for them, even when you don't get along with your spouse."

Ok, that came out ambiguous.

In "be there for them", I was thinking "be near, so that you can see them more often".

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

macrom (537566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13944843)

Your blanket statements sound good, but you have no clue as to my situation. Most of what you said is standard boilerplate rhetoric spewed by outsiders that don't take an individual into consideration.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13945173)

Your blanket statements sound good, but you have no clue as to my situation. Most of what you said is standard boilerplate rhetoric spewed by outsiders that don't take an individual into consideration.

Yes, you're right. I still stand by my (amended) statement that parents (even divorced ones) need to sacrifice for their children.

We've put our money where our mouths are: my wife could be making a lot more money, but we agreed that being around for our children when they come home from school is more important. (And no, I don't make anywhere near a 6 digit salary.)

Re:Is this really a good idea? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13945969)

Wow, aren't you fucking special? I feel sorry for your kids though, I can't stand you after a few comments on an internet board, and they have to spend all their extra time with you.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936807)

By that argument, you shouldn't give kids books, either.

I doubt the kid is going to be doing nothing but playing with this game. It's all about balance.

Re:Is this really a good idea? (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 9 years ago | (#13941927)

When I was that age I was playing educational games on an Odyssey2 with the Voice add-on. I specifically remember playing games such as "Nimble Numbers Ned" and "Sid the Spellbinder".
 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any console has had a voice synthesis system since (Animal Crossing on the GameCube doesn't count. The "animalese" is less than intelligible.)
 
I miss the Odyssey2. Those were some good games, gameplay wise.

Other products (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936017)

How about a real (used) computer for about the same price? Then you can load a bunch of educational crap on it. The educational possibilities will be limitless, rather than limited to a small bundle of expensive low quality game cartridges.

Or not. The jet engine sound of an old computer might scare the kid.

Re:Other products (3, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936090)

While I don't have any experience with the consoles, as a kid who grew up on educational games for the PC, I'd like to think it worked out pretty well =) Load 'em up with old classics like Number Munchers, Where in the US/World/Time/Hell is Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail...they'll learn a ton. And if they're geeky enough like i was in elementary school, they'll get an award for the "Number Muncher King" in front of the whole school.

On second thought, make sure you limit the amount of time they spend with those games...

/loads up the AppleIIe emulator

Re:Other products (2, Funny)

jeblucas (560748) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936874)

That should be an albinoblacksheep production: Where In The Hell Is Carmen Sandiego? Like Windows RG edition [albinoblacksheep.com] .

Re:Other products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13936640)

While I agree about using a normal older computer, I would like to add that pencil and paper work much better. Computers still can not replace good old fashioned teaching. Introducing computers at such an early age doesn't help at all. Children need to explore the real tangible world before they are introduced to the virtual world.

I have an old laptop running windows 98se that my toddlers play with, but I only let them play it on Saturdays and Sundays. They only play it if I remind them. It's mostly loaded with educational games, but does have a few mindless video games. The rest of the time they are playing with lego, megablocks, connex, paper, carboard, pencil and crayon as well as reading stories. They're making things with their own hands which will help their hand eye coordination.

Simple toys that expand a child's immagination work best. My boys built a race car out of cereal boxes, tape and plastic tupperware covers. They also like riding their bicycles. Others have given them those electronic spelling toys as gifts, but they aren't playing with them much. It was money wasted. Your 4 year old might not play with the expensive electronic toy. Also, why do "electronic toys" have to make so much noise. They need volume controls on them.

Re:Other products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13938951)

Alphabet blocks, a small chalkboard, and a nice full-color atlas are still the best learning tools for children, even in the age of PCs with 500 GB hard drives. And the alphabet blocks, chalkboard, and atlas will still work for your grand children and great grand children.

PCs and these LeapFrog deals are generally overrated, especially considering their prices and their longevity. Getting a 3-year-old a PC now just puts the parents on an expensive upgrade treadmill, as friends get newer computers with better games, etc., driving the suburb mall Abercrombie $$$ fashion madness.

It's best to save the PC for when the kids are older, when they can get a solid 5 years or more of use out of it and perhaps even take it to college.

V(ertical)Smile (2, Funny)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936040)

My wife and I are looking into purchasing a game based learning console for our 4 year old boy this Christmas. The two front runners are the VSmile from VTech and the Leapster from Leapfrog.

Well, I sure as hell wouldn't buy my kid something called a VSmile.

Re:V(ertical)Smile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13936720)

Don't worry about it, if that was the first thing you thought of you need to go through puberty before that's a concern.

Re:V(ertical)Smile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13942310)

lol you gotta learn about them sooner or later!

Just don't forget... (4, Insightful)

jbarr (2233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936047)

...to also challenge him with other things to develop his imagination and creativity.

"Old school" stuff like drawing on paper with crayons, playing with blocks, creating with Tinker Toys, Flying paper airplanes, playing with toys that have no electronic gizmos...anything to make him create and imagine, instead of following a pre-programmed toy.

By all means, take advantage of the latest gadgets, but at least suppliment them with creativity-boosting toys.

Re:Just don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13936473)

yes yes yes yes yes

mod parent way the hell up

Re:Just don't forget... (-1, Flamebait)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937009)

My mom always said, "Jim, you're 1 in a million." Given the current population, there are 6000 of me. God help us all!

It sounds like your mom was kindof a whore...

Re:Just don't forget... (1)

couch_potato (623264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13943631)

Amen to that!

This summer I was watching my nephew, who is seven. His parents (perhaps parents isn't the right word, they're just the people who brought him into this world -- aside from that they really don't do anything that I consider parenting) are very hands-off. In his bedroom he has a TV, VCR, DVD player, Nintendo 64, and a Playstation. He's had all of that in there since he was three years old. When he's at home, his parents make him stay in his room all the time. I guess they figure that he's got enough to do in there, he doesn't really need anything like, oh, I don't know, LOVE and ATTENTION. The result of this sort of neglectful parenting is a kid whose sole interests in life are cartoons and video games.

So, here I was, stuck babysitting this future sociopath. I like to think of myself as a bit of a good influence in his life, and I won't let him spend his time with me just staring into the TV with a controller in his hands. Of course, since that is all he wants to do, it's very difficult to get him to do anything else. I brought the little vampire outside to play in the sun and he acted like I was asking him to murder someone. Here's the worst part: he asked me what there is to do outside. I said, "use your imagination." He replied, "I don't know how."

This kid doesn't know how to PRETEND because his whole life he has been entertained by TV and video games, passive experiences that don't help develop imagination. It's so incredibly sad, because he is a smart kid, and has so much potential that is just wasted because of his upbringing.

I guess this post is somewhat off-topic, but maybe someone somewhere will be helped by this anecdote. Give your kids what they need -- social interaction, love, and attention. Teach them to PLAY and use their IMAGINATION, not to be force-fed whatever drivel is being streamed into their television sets.

I remember being 4... (3, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936076)

My favorite educational entertainment device was 'Stick'.

Stick was great. I could put a crab able on the end and observe centrifical force and mechanical advantage. I could balance it on my hand to improve coordination. I could throw it and chase my dog to build muscles and stamina. I could charge my evil brother with it like charging into battle like King Arthur like in the stories and legends taught to me. I could share my stick with my friends to learn cooperation. I could combine my stick with my friends' sticks to make a fort.

Ahhh, the simple joys of Stick.

-Rick

Re:I remember being 4... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936101)

bleh, edit first, then post. "crab able" should be "crab apple"

-Rick

Re:I remember being 4... (5, Funny)

OregonComputerSoluti (907749) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936516)

Or better yet.... LOG!!!

You remember LOG don't you -- it even had it's own theme song!

"What rolls down stairs alone or in pairs
rolls over your neighbor's dog?
What's great for a snack and fits on your back?
It's Log, Log, Log!

It's Log, Log, it's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's Log, Log, it's better than bad, it's good!
Everyone wants a log! You're gonna love it, Log!
Come on and get your log! Everyone needs a Log!"

Stick -- BAH! I would take LOG over Stick any day of the week!

Re:I remember being 4... (1)

Locke03 (915242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938834)

Stick, Log? Bah... Rock is where it was at. Rock is far more durable and compact. Also Rock comes in many exciting colors, textures and shapes.

Re:I remember being 4... (1)

Meest (714734) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936989)

My favorite educational entertainment device was 'Stick'. Stick was great. I could put a crab able on the end and observe centrifical force and mechanical advantage. I could balance it on my hand to improve coordination. I could throw it and chase my dog to build muscles and stamina. I could charge my evil brother with it like charging into battle like King Arthur like in the stories and legends taught to me. I could share my stick with my friends to learn cooperation. I could combine my stick with my friends' sticks to make a fort. Ahhh, the simple joys of Stick.

Something tells me those last two incedents ended up with your parents telling you to zip up your pants.....

Re:I remember being 4... (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937543)

Which particular brand of stick [google.com] would you suggest?

One Word: (3, Informative)

CrazyClimber (469251) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936164)

Legos

Re:One Word: (1)

bherman (531936) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936253)

Two words: Choke Hazard His kid is two....he'll try to stuff them all down his throat.

Re:One Word: (1)

PGC (880972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936321)

DUPLO legos

Re:One Word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13937602)

Depends I played with regular lego since I was 3.
Helps build good spatial visualization skills.
And I never decided to eat them, stick them up my nose, etc.

Re:One Word: (1)

heson (915298) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939607)

Dip them all in NoBite nail polish :) Naaaa, I think DUPLO is better.

Re:One Word: (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939609)

You've clearly not looked at Lego (there is no S) recently. My son had the Baby Lego range from 6 months, and there was no way he was going to get a block an inch a side down his throat.

He's getting Quatro for Christmas (he'll be 15 months then), then moving up to Duplo, and won't get the 'real' lego bricks until he's about 4 or so. They've really got the toddler market sorted now.

First words (4, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936276)

My wife and I are looking into purchasing a game based learning console for our 4 year old boy this Christmas . . . We also have a 2 year old boy so something that lasts would be nice.

Sure, if you want the two year-old's first spoken words to be not "mommy" and "daddy" but "pwn," "teh," "l33t," "B11F," and "hax0r." His spelling skills will be forever ruined, but hey, at least he'll gain the linguistic skills necessary to speak fluent Bosnian [ox.ac.uk] !

Re:First words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13943348)

There is no "Bosnian" language. It's just a subdialect of Serbian with a different accent (BTW, "Croatian" also falls under the same definition). Saying that someone speaks "Bosnian" is like like saying that someone speaks "Australian" or "South African" -- it's all English.

After good old Yugoslavia split, they took the existing "Serbo-Croatian" (politically correct name) and made three languages of it! Ridicoulus...

GameCube (4, Informative)

turtled (845180) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936283)

I play GameCube side by side with my four year old. It is amazing the things he remembers and associates with. The way he can control characters is awesome. It builds map skills, memory skills, and hand eye coordination.

Re:GameCube (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937118)

I play GameCube side by side with my four year old.

I'm wondering which games you play with the tyke. I play SSBM with my stepsons, but they are 17 & 12;-) After several months of practicing I can even beat them- every now and again...

Re:GameCube (1)

turtled (845180) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938086)

I play several games with him. SSBM is one, we both just mash buttons and find combos. MarioKart:DD is a great one to play with him! We also play PowerRangers, F-Zero (which is fast, and I am amazed on how fast he grasps that speed and control), X-Men wolverine, and we recenlty have played Paper Mario, although that's A LOT of reading, even for me! He doesn't know how to read yet, but Paper Mario will be an excellent game for enhancing reading skills. He is also good at Mario Party; we have 4/5/6, and he likes Sonic and has gotten better and further in the game as time rolls by. I think some of the passive learning is actually doing something with your kids, making things exciting, because outside of the video games, a book is read to him EVERY NIGHT. I will have to get him involved with Zelda... =)

Re:GameCube (1, Funny)

Xarius (691264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938206)

I can only imagine how proud you will be when your child becomes a perfect sphere...

I used to play football.

Re:GameCube (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939619)

Well, mine _does_ rather like watching me play Super Monkey Ball.

Re:GameCube (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13938982)

Video games also build a dependency on instant gratification, promotes thinking sitting on one's ass all day is fun, and drives losing valuable hours that could be spent with real human beings (i.e., friends).

When my son gets old enough to play video games, he'll be strongly encouraged that video games are more of a last resort for entertainment, along with watching much of what's on TV. There's no reason to get the brain-rot going at so young an age, IMO.

It's amazing how many people will rationalize that idle entertainment time-sinks are actually educational and skills-building. God, just looking at the Baby Einstein toy we got as a gift is irritating. The real Einstein must be rolling in his grave.

Do people not see how transparent these things are? They are marketing and profiteering first, before all else. They are engineered to engage maximum response from children, even when that response is simply unhealthy, because naive parents think they can sit back and watch their child 'learn' (when in reality they often end up ADD or worse--bring on the meds, doc!).

Re:GameCube (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940985)

4 year olds, maybe, but 2 and 3 year olds don't have the attention span to sit with my and my gamecube.

I own a V-Smile for my 3 year old and have had it since his 2nd birthday. It was a little challenging for him at 2, but putting the 'no death' and such settings let him get used to the system, and eventually you put it harder and harder until he's ready for the next set. My son has learned memory and other educational games (shape matching, etc..) from this system, and its games to him so he only gets to play when he's good and such. Really quite the dream, if you ask me...

Don't waste your money (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936474)

When our daughter was four, the grandparents bought one of those LeapFrog reading books that looked like a laptop. It lasted for a few hours on Christmas day and then it was forgotten. Stabbing at the words as fast as you can was the only fun to be had.

Proper books work well. Reading and talking about the stories is so much more fun. There is a lot to gain from having a good selection of books. I know they're expensive but that's what libraries and second-hand book shops are for.

We also have an old P3 650 laptop that I picked up cheap. It runs web pages with Flash fine. There are lots of sites that our daughter visits on her own. The cBBC site is her favourite. She loves Dora on the NickJr site. There are sometimes free games on the fronts of magazines - these are normally Flash based too and run fine on the old thing. She coped with the mouse fine but struggled a little with double-clicking on the touch pad.

At 5 years old she plays Xbox. Fun for all the family :)

Give your two year old a bunch of old keys, some glue (they all love glue), some coloured paper, a few jigsaw puzzles and a hammer. Give him 18 months and create a new user account on the laptop.

Re:Don't waste your money (1)

martalli (818692) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939618)

We also have an old P3 650 laptop that I picked up cheap. It runs web pages with Flash fine. There are lots of sites that our daughter visits on her own. The cBBC site is her favourite. She loves Dora on the NickJr site. There are sometimes free games on the fronts of magazines - these are normally Flash based too and run fine on the old thing. She coped with the mouse fine but struggled a little with double-clicking on the touch pad.

We also have a P3-600 PC which I now have up in my 3 year old's bedroom. It only has linux right now, and with gcompris and childsplay, there is some educational value to it, appropriate to his age. With flash, we can access web sites like Thomas the Train, and the Tamil Virtual University http://tamilvu.org/ [tamilvu.org] , which has some children's material. Growing up in rural Illinois, he's not going to learn Mom's language in school!

Other benefits to the linux pc for kids - working logo language (KLogo), which may come in handy later as an intro to programming (although I only used BASIC on my VIC 20 as a kid), and of course the whole office suite for later...although by then the hand-me-down will probably be this Barton 2500. =)

On the original question, we are leaning towards getting a VSmile, because the game console and portable game player use the same cartridges. I agree with everyone else that books, drawing, and above all socialization are most important at this age. However, when we get on that long flight to Bangalore next spring, I hope we have a few things for the boys to do!

good website (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 9 years ago | (#13948888)

try http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/ [bbc.co.uk] for them. A cheap PC with a cheap keyboard/mouse or trackball (so you don't mind it getting broken or slobbered on) and the BBC CBeebies website keeps my two year old very amused...

LeapPad (1)

Raseri (812266) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936483)

My 2-year-old son has one of these (it's the same thing as a Leapster, but for younger kids). However, he doesn't really use it except to smash. :) Like someone else mentioned, go with crayons and other, more creative toys to help your kids with the learning. A 4-year-old just doesn't have the attention span for one of these things.

Re:LeapPad...and Lego...and Brio Trains (1)

bshensky (110723) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936891)


Right on - Techie toys list these are a waste of time with a 2 year old.

My 3 year old wouldn't touch a computer game until he was 33 months.

Even now, at 40 months, the computer games are worthwhile - these give him the opportunity to learn how to use the mouse. But the Leapster and its ilk sit idly by in the toybox.

Someone said "Lego" (Duplo). I agree wholeheartedly.

Add to that the Brio / Thomas the Tank Engine / Imaginarium wooden track sets. Seems silly, but there's a lot of playing, and a lot to learn, from those sets.

But don't waste your money on those "educational" gadgets.

Leapfrog is Fine, But Tech is Overrated (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936502)

Leapfrog has an excellent reputation. My 2-year-old daughter enjoys her Little Touch LeapPad [amazon.com] and Fridge Phonics Magnet Set [amazon.com] from time to time, but she learned her letters more quickly from a combination of Dr. Seuss' ABC book [amazon.com] and sitting with me playing "The Letter Game"--fire up a word processor, set the font size to 72, change the font color and she's entertained for hours. She knew her entire alphabet before her 2nd birthday.

I guess what I'm saying is, the nifty tech gadgetry will not hold your child's attention any better or any worse than pretty much anything else, and often the tried-and-true methods of education (reading to your child, playing with your child, etc.) are much more effective, at least they have been with my daughter.

The other thing to remember is that anything can be a teaching tool. My little brother was motivated to teach himself to read when he was 4 years old because he wanted to play Final Fantasy 2 (4j) and I refused to sit and read all the captions to him. I have a nephew who taught himself to read by playing Mario 64. A childhood friend of mine was in remedial reading classes until the fourth grade, when his dad brought him comic books and said, "I don't care what you read, but I want you to read for an hour a day." Within a year he was reading at grade level.

I guess I've gone pretty far afield from the original question, so here you go. Basically, among educational children's toys LeapFrog has a well-deserved reputation. Baby Einstein (Disney's answer to LeapFrog, sort of) has less well-deserved popularity, but the videos are at least worthwhile for very young children (like babies). I would recommend the LeapPad but be prepared for minor disappointment when you realize that cheaper toys are just as popular with your son as his nifty book-thing. d^_^b

Re:Leapfrog is Fine, But Tech is Overrated (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938276)

and sitting with me playing "The Letter Game"--fire up a word processor, set the font size to 72, change the font color and she's entertained for hours.

Ahh, yes... I remember sitting and playing copy con nul at my dad's work computer (an "IBM Compatible!") as a child. I was older, of course. That was... oh... upper single digits? Of course, before that I had BASIC on the Commodore 64.

Re:Leapfrog is Fine, But Tech is Overrated (1)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938683)

The original Baby Einstein stuff, made by whats-her-name and her daughters, wasn't bad, and was oddly hypnotic to people of all ages. All the ones I've seen that were produced after Disney took over are total crap, basically just squeezing the last few dollars out of a good name. "Baby Einstein", "Baby Mozart", and "Baby Bach" are worth checking out if your child is very young.

Re:Leapfrog is Fine, But Tech is Overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13939021)

"Baby Mozart", and "Baby Bach" are worth checking out if your child is very young.

These are mainly for people who don't know just how cliche they are. They are most often made to 'sound smart', mainly by piling on the baroque-sounding nonsense, like the music played in gourmet grocery stores. Today's children would probably get much more enjoyment out of Beethoven's playful symphonies or Grieg's dances, for example, than some obscure concerto by Mozart. Almost always, when I see a "kid's classical music" CD, my response is "BLEH."

First I heard of these (2, Interesting)

CokeJunky (51666) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936558)

But then I am a new father (3mo!), and so untill lately I have not been remotely looking at kids toys. I just have to wonder what is the hardware in these things, and how hard would it be to hack them and write your own software. i.e.

Step 1: Hack and boot linux on it
Step 2: ...
Step 3: Profit?

(Couldn't resist, haven't seen one of those here for a while).

Seriously though, what I see is a cheap full colour LCD hand held that is made of (hopefully) bullet proof plastic - I would expect it to be made more sturdy than toys made for older kids (aka adults) who don't throw things when they are frustated(well, not that often anyways.)

Set em up with a stage 1 gentoo install (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13936838)

Before you know it, your kids will be off to college and KDE will be ready to use. (Sniffle...wipes tear from eye.)

How about getting (1)

kcidymkcus (922839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936858)

a fucking clue moron. Your dumbass question is not slashdot material. Go to a fucking toy review website or maybe a fucking "I'm a half ass parent with half a clue help me" website. You fucking retard.

Re:How about getting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13937248)

confucious says: "dumbfuck with 6 digit uid that starts with a 9 shouldn't tell people what's appropriate and what isn't"

Re:How about getting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13937290)

confucious also say: "He who equates Slashdot uids with intelligence or weight of opinion is one sorry, stupid individual. Most likely a retard."

Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

dslauson (914147) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936946)

This is really wierd. This guy is asking about getting his kid into learning with technology, and people on /. are giving him a hard time about turning his kid into a nerd. Are your lives that bad that you're trying to save future generations from a life of being a technophile?

Of course, parents need to teach kids other stuff like social skills, and let them play with other toys like coloring books, blocks, whatever. Duh, the guy isn't asking for parenting advice, he simply wants to know if we have any experience with these devices, and if so, can we help him out? There's really no reason not to supplement the learning experience with the technology, right?

BTW, my nephew has one of the leap variety, and he loves it. I can't testify as to what he's learning from it, but he's definitely having fun with it.

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937531)

Having a kiddie techno-toy does not make one a nerd. I think it was easier being a kid nerd in the 80's because we didn't have the zoo-formerly-known-as-the-internet.. we didn't have pretty clicky things. You either knew how to use the CLI (and/or Basic) or you went out and played "kill yourself on a bike". Today's kids just hop on a game and waste their life away, learning to snipe the red team with sub-pixel accuracy, but mention the command line and they will either say "Dos is kewl, nigga!" or "Dos is for old farts". Either way, I feel the potent urge to smack them over the head with the keyboard. Kids don't learn shit anymore, they are taught to be lazy and even expect/accept being mentally inferior, delegating the important stuff to "experts".

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

PopeOptimusPrime (875888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937562)

No, slashdot has not become anti-tech. However, we have become anti-bad-tech. Leapfrog and VTech suck pretty hard and are incredibly expensive. Hell, for $69.95 plus some software prices you could pick up a one-gen-old console and load it out with all the educational games. Personally, I'd reccomend getting an old computer (laptop?) on the cheap and loading it with some old emulators, preferrably hooking a nice kid friendly controller up too. Back when I was younger (10-ish years ago?) my brother and I used to LOVE the Tonka series for the Sega Genesis. Anyway, moral of the story is, if you're smart enough to ask us slashdotters about this stuff, I have faith that you can think of an innovative and original solution to your problem...

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

Glomek (853289) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937597)

I don't think people in this topic are being anti-tech at all. I think they're being anti-tech-that-tries-to-do-things-that-parents-sho uld-do and anti-tech-that-only-works-with-other-tech-from-the -same-company.

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

xTown (94562) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938039)

Are your lives that bad that you're trying to save future generations from a life of being a technophile?

I think it's a general inclination on the part of parents to want their children to have lives that are different from their own. I teach my daughter what she needs to know to get around on whatever computer she happens to be using, but there's no way I want her to grow up and get a job in the tech field. It's not that I'm dissatisfied, but I have a vague sense that there has to be something better.

I remember when I was growing up, I told my parents that I wanted to go to the same college they went to, and work in banking just like they did. I wasn't a little kid, either. My dad just looked at me and said that there was no way in hell.

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (2, Insightful)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13941599)

there's no way I want her to grow up and get a job in the tech field. It's not that I'm dissatisfied, but I have a vague sense that there has to be something better

First off, let me say I don't have any kids. I understand your wanting "something better" for your daughter, and I also understand that you want to cultivate in your daughter a sense that she can be who she wants to be, and not who you want her to be. The former can lead to independence and joy, the latter to resentment.

However, don't kid yourself about the tech field. IT and other knowledge-based industries are the *ultimate* jobs, for the people who love them and know history. These are jobs where an individual can get paid very good (sometimes excellent) money, sitting around in a cubicle or other work area, in air-conditioned comfort, just for thinking. Most of the time at these jobs, thinking is the greatest portion of the job. Given enough thought and proper design, the actual product takes little time to create, respectively. At no other time in history have there been so many of these kinds of intellectual jobs available at one time.

There is a downside. The fact that anyone who has a brain, two hands, and an internet connection to do the vast majority of these jobs for the lowest bid has helped to lead to the issues we in the tech industry see today, that of vast amounts of outsourcing. However, the knowledge worker job will not go away. It will, however, expand more. This will probably mean less money for everyone overall, but possibly more money for those with stronger and more varied knowledge skills.

Ultimately, cultivating in your daughter a sense that she can be and do whatever she wishes is the most important thing. However, if it turns out that she wants to go into a "tech field" - and really shows that she loves it, don't try to discourage her. Guide her as best as you can, teach her the strengths and pitfalls of whatever she chooses (and realize that what she thinks today may change in 2 weeks to 5 years depending on her age), and let her be happy with her choice. Ultimately, whatever job/career she chooses, she should be happy with that choice, and look forward to performing her job each day. One can either be happy as a manager at quik-e-mart, or depressed and frustrated dealing with court cases as a lawyer - or vice-versa, of course...

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

TheCatWhisperer (598825) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939928)

I don't think people are trying to be anti-tech. Many are just stating the obvious, that sitting with your kids and reading to/with them is much better then shoving a talking toy in their face. Kids already have one of those... the T.V... You can get the Baby Einstein series and then move up to blues clues, Dora, bob the builder, etc, but none of that is a replacement for positive person-to-person interaction or giving a child the tools (crayons, etc) to be imaginative.

Kids these days have very little to no choice but to become computer/tech literate. No worries there, I think where to worry is all about non-tech. Show me a kid that can draw, or write well (not on a computer) and I'll be surprised. Too many parents are relying on T.V., tech toys, consoles, etc to entertain their kids. If you want a child to grow mentally, then et them to use their imagination.

BTW: from experience with our nieces, the Leapfrog is cool, but doesn't do a good job of teaching, the child will be more likely to stab at the word then try and guess it's pronunciation. (cheating...)

Re:Has slashdot become anti-tech? (1)

Avacar (911548) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940055)

Slashdot isn't being anti-tech... but I think here at Slashdot we know better than most the importance of learning the basics first, and working up. You don't start programming with a visual lanugage, you start with a nice 'Hello World'.

For raising kids, there are many basic skills to be developed, and most of them can be taught better through non-technological means. We're aren't always about using only technology, we're about doing things in the best way possible, which for us usually involves technology... but in this case, that isn't true.

In 1982, when I was 5... (1)

jcwynholds (765111) | more than 9 years ago | (#13936981)

My mom decided to buy a Tandy 1000 with a lightning fast 8086 processor and 128kb of ram. It was to run her business from home, but when she wasn't using it, I would fire it up to play games and learn BASIC.

This was really my first delving into computing. When my classroom got 20 TRS-80's, I was on the top of the heap (bad pun intended).

Computers and educational software are by far superior to prepackaged consoles. I learned infinitely more from the Tandy 1000 and the TSR-80 than I ever did from the NES (and I played all of them for HOURS on end).

Kids can be really sharp. I was always so thankful that my mom had the foresight to let me loose on her machine.

With all that said, I haven't seen either the VSmile or the LeapPad, but I would go with the suggestions to just go out and put together an older system. It's what I will do when my kids are old enough.

They're basically games (1)

Wespionage (751377) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937182)

We have used mostly Leap products, but also V-Tech, with our two girls (five and two years old). They both enjoy using them, but they are essentially toys. Sure, sure... they are games based around learning, but the learning portion is generally overstated.

Some of the early reviews of the Leapster I think have been confirmed by now, and that is that the system is more game than education. As long as you're buying this as a gaming console with educational titles, rather than a learning console with games, you'll probably like either. In general, just for the ubiquity of the product and variety of add-ons, I like the Leap series.

With a question like this it is inevitable that folks will always give you the same message -- a product like this should supplement "better" educational toys. The Leap stuff is great, but neither work very well if the child doesn't have sufficient time with someone just reading books to the child or providing the child with more creative puzzles or toys. The real benefit from these products comes, I think, through some independent use of it, and if the child isn't really ready to use it independently, it's just a (hopefully) fun game that you can feel less guilty about because it doesn't involve shooting things. As they get older, some of the titles (at least with things like the LeapPad) are pretty academic -- books about history or biology. But at this age, it's questionable.

family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13937197)

my lil cousins have leapsters, i would recomend them for a 4 year old. they aren't hard to get used to, and have a great range of software.

however, i've never heard about the other thing.

Good Old Fashioned Ones (1)

Joe Tennies (564856) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937311)

I know my wife and I (along with most of our cousins) grew up on the Texas Instruments Speak 'N Spell, Speak 'N Math, Speak 'N Read.

So, I guess what I'm saying is don't think this is a new idea. Don't think this is a bad idea (as a lot of the people I know that used it rated top 5-10 percentile for IQ).

Also, you can potentially pick up the old Speak 'N... series for really cheap with the add-on modules. They are just as applicable now as they were then.

Speak 'n Spell rocked! (1)

hlygrail (700685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940487)

"Great! Now spell PROFIT..."

Man I loved Speak 'n Spell!

Forget the computers (-1)

They_Call_Me_Spanky (83478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937358)

A couple of sugestions:

Lego Mindstorms
Boardgames like Monopoly and Settlers of Catan
Anything that makes thim build or create something.

Product recommendation: (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937371)

I recommend this [amazon.com] graphics system, it is much less expensive than the VTech and Leapfrog systems, has an infinite variety of software available, has a low learning curve, and kids enjoy it tremendously.

Not the comment you're looking for (1)

tfinniga (555989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937644)

This doesn't really answer your question, but my experience with both brands is that Leapfrog is generally a lot less annoying than VTech. I think this is important, because as a parent I listen to the electronic beeps and so forth of my kids toys quite a bit, and they annoy me much more quickly than the kids.

VTech toys have a habit of going into 'attract mode' like arcade games. For a while after you've played with them, they continue to make noises (the piano actually says 'play with me!'). Ugh.

In general, I prefer Leapfrog toys, although other people keep giving us VTech toys.

Deja vu (1)

Admiral Frosty (919523) | more than 9 years ago | (#13937659)

When I read "Gaming Console" and "Learning", two horrible, horrible things came to mind: The 3DO and the CD-i.

Dear lord, I may not sleep tonight...

Re:Deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13941350)

Having both the CDi and 3DO I can firmly say that while the CDi was trash all the way around, the 3DO was just porly marketed and way over priced. It relay has some very creative games and was my favoret console for a while. Of cource I write games for the Virtual Boy so my judgement may be off.

David Tucker

experience with LeapFrog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13938101)

I have two daughters (5 and 7) and they have been playing with LeapFrog stuff for about three years now. We have two of the LeapFrog book gadgets (one for each girl) with about 20 different books/cartidges, and a Leapster with about 6 or 7 games.

They have gone though all of their LeapFrog books and still play with them about 2 - 3 times a month. More often when we are travelling, since we always pack up the LeapFrog stuff when we go on long car rides. The Dinosaur, Superman, and Spiderman books are the most popular for the girls as far as I can tell, but the last book I saw them playing was some Scooby Doo issue.

The Leapster also gets played. The 5 year old has played it for two hours straight a few times. Not very suprising in her case because she does very well at quietly playing by herself with all sorts of toys. We have two GameBoy Advanced's and she gives up on them within 10 minutes -- the games are all too hard. The Leapster has low-stress games that use the touchscreen and will entertain kids from 4 - 7 years as far as I can tell.

We let the girls sit at the computer and play flash based games quite often. The LOVE to print stuff out. They print out pictures they've made as well black and white pictures for coloring. Give your kids an internet connection and bookmarks to stuff like NickJr, Barbie, and Disney, with a printer and they will have fun.

Neither (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938150)

My family has had experience with both of those products, and both were ignored after a few days... we tried buying them more cartridges (which are expensive). Honestly, as much as I hate to say this, "educational" software SUCKS. Buy the kids some Lego's...

...or one of those little toy calculators that gave you problems to answer (some being simple 4+5=?, some being more like 4+X=9, some being ?x4=12)... I used to love mine, and it certainly gave me an advantage over the other kids in my kindergarten class, who had trouble adding. Honestly, why don't I see any of these any more?

Leap / Real computer (1)

RedPhoenix (124662) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938292)

At the risk of echoing other comments, I'd actually recommend considering a 'real' computer.

I took the plunge for our 3-year-old, and picked up a 2nd-hand system for $160 (australian). I configured it to auto-login, and play a segment of a wiggles tune on startup. I put up a few nice big icons on the screen that lead to tuxracer, and web sites for:
BBC Kids, the wiggles, and the fimbles. There are also a couple of MP3's of his favorite music on the desktop that he just has to hover the mouse over to play (gotta love nautilus preview). A squid proxy stops him from accidentally wandering away from the 'sandbox zone'.

I'm also considering nfs mounting (read-only) the mythtv box, so he can access bob the builder, or whatever he wants to watch, when it's raining outside, and the TV is otherwise engaged.

It constantly amazes me how quickly they pick things up. The little bugger will be hacking my root password in no time. ;)

Drop me an email (contact details: Google intersectalliance, find contact.html) for more info if you're interested.

Wooden blocks, rolly toys, cardboard box, etc. (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 9 years ago | (#13938454)

Your kid still needs to develop some of the basic coping skills and also imagine stuff for themselves without having folks shove reality at them wheil they are still developing. I'm a big fan for computers and all but having worked in the Child Development field (as a techie) I have come to understand all this new fangled stuff is fine and dandy but there are basic things kids really NEED to do besides bury themselves into electronic gadgetland... How about play with others, draw on blank sheets of paper, build castles out of wooden blocks, run around the house in underoos and a blanket as a cape. Guys, please don't rob this generation of the discoveries of childhood, though I am sure the MPAA and RIAA would like you to continue to raise your little consumer over a little creator any day. Please just give them a chance to develop thier imagination and motor skills.

V-Tech's stick is just horrid (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#13939633)

They're not even quite Sega Megadrive/Genesis power, and frankly the games didn't look any more educational than playing Sonic either, but the V-Tech's stick looked rather attractive to hotwire it for use on a real console, since my son keeps trying to play on my Soul Calibur 2 stick (no, I don't let him watch SC2, but I use it for Ikaruga).

Then I tried one - it's a horrible soggy mess. Sure it's built to cope with kids, but I'd rather get him a cheap proper stick to use when he's old enough than one of these.

Re:V-Tech's stick is just horrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13939942)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/21/how_dumb_k ids/ [theregister.co.uk]

Playing using the mind and some objects is better than using IT.

God know what syndromes our kids will have if they sit at computers all day like I have since I was 8 or so. Carpal tunnel is a worry for me and kids must be sucsceptible as they've not fully formed yet. They're better off outdoors IMHO.

Leapster Is Okay (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940328)

I found the Leapster to be a great toy for my own 4 year old little gamer. The games are a very good replacement for the PC edutainment you'd typically find for the under 7 crowd, but without the hassle of installing it. A lot of edutainment titles I've encountered don't age well on the PC. That is, upgrading sound and video often breaks the older games which were designed with low end hardware in mind and sometimes simply won't work higher resolutions. And the form factor of the Leapster is a good intro to what they'll later encounter graduating to Gameboys and other consoles. The games are pretty much just pick up and play using the touch screen and stylus never posed any problems either. The one downside is that the Leapster eats batteries like crazy, so I'd definitely buy the charging unit. Too bad the Leapster isn't an open platform, it uses Flash and I'd love to code some stuff on it!

As a father of three... (1)

CTD (615278) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940577)

I have three kids. We have educational toys. We have a computer they can use. Ages 8, 5, and 3. My wife is a college professor, and we homeschool. So we pay attention to 'educational value' in a toy/game.

Understand this, even if you buy them both - they are toys. Period. Whatever learning that comes from them will be small and slow. You can impact her in a greater way through every interaction if you make that choice.

Also know that she will model what she sees and experiences from you. If you play with her using these toys every day, she will want to use them. If you hand them to her with batteries your odds of her engaging with them goes down fast.

We have had toys like this over the years. At this point we don't buy them. I'm giving my oldest kid my PDA for christmas (one of us might as well use it daily), and they all have access to a simple computer and games that say they are educational. Because Mom & Dad use the computer daily, the kids use the computer daily. Heck, we give them each two tickets for 30 minutes of 'game time' on the computer each day and they cash them in during 'free time' and play whatever they want.

If you really want to get a head start on education, give her the options and then whatever she likes, use. I taught one of my kid colors with Playdough at a very young age. It was what she liked to play with. That's the important factor, the kid wanting to play with it. If they want to do it you can teach through it. If they don't care... you are wasting your time.

Book (1)

rakerman (409507) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940862)

I recommend "book". Some of them have even been known to last more than 2 years.

What happened to Legos (2, Insightful)

Professional Heckler (928160) | more than 9 years ago | (#13940865)

Its not that I disapprove of video games. I love them and waste quite a lot of time on them. But not as much as I could. Now I understand that these arent the typical game console, but it builds a response in the child. Responses are sent from the system to the child in a pre-programmed manner. There is no room for experimentation. Get your kid some interactive toys, like lego's blocks, playmobil, something where there is only your child and the toy, not some machine that gives answers based on some programmers idea of how it should all work out.

Get a computer or a Playstation (1)

gozar (39392) | more than 9 years ago | (#13941063)

For my 20 month old daughter I've been looking at used education playstation games, they're very cheap, and usually has characters she recognizes (Winnie the Pooh and for some strange reason Sponge Bob Square Pants. She has a doll of Sponge Bob but has never seen the show.) I'm scared of the interest she's beginning to show in Barbie though....

I'm planning on setting up an older mac for when she is older. You can pick them up for practically nothing and there are tons of educational software out for them.

As for those recommending play-dough, Lego bricks, and sticks, the Playstation/Computer is a supplement for those, not a replacement. Just like you wouldn't want your child only playing with a stick, you're not going to want them to only play on an electronic device.

Re:Get a computer or a Playstation (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13942098)

Just like you wouldn't want your child only playing with a stick, you're not going to want them to only play on an electronic device.

Unless you're THIS GUY [slashdot.org]

Learning is inspired by internal motivation. (2, Insightful)

Rowan_u (859287) | more than 9 years ago | (#13941502)

Small children have a built in desire to mimic their parents, and are often merely offended by toys that obviously don't have the same features that a real computer or device has. These "learning" machines also suffer from the flaw of manipulation. A child will learn much more when they are given the opportunity to choose for themselves; rather then being led by the nose down whatever path pop-child-psychology is headed these days.

That being said I'm the father of a four year old also, and his "toys" are the exact same things I play with. He has his own computer with a regular windows desktop just like mine, and access to the same types of applications I use. If I want him to try out something "educational" on his computer, I let him see me using the program, and it isn't long before he wants to try it as well. When I'm building a new computer, he gets out his motherboards and cables, and builds one also.

He also likes to play Xbox and Gamecube games. These games (if carefully chosen) are going to do a lot more for you than any educational software simply because of quality. There's an obvious difference in quality between educational software that has a short development cycle, and a full fledged game that has a mature industry behind it. A game that inspires interest will also inspire learning. Games with built-in world creation tools (like MoonBase Commander) are a good choice Also, any game or piece of software can be educational, especially if you take the time to select it yourself for its value.

The point is that kids are smart. They don't like to be manipulated any more then we do. My four year old is learning to read so he can understand the menu's in Homeworld 2 better. He'll learn the things that last by having his own motivations to learn them.

Re:Learning is inspired by internal motivation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13948903)

that's awesome. that's how my parents were too. you rock!

also, every kid should play super mario bros on regular NES. thats the best learning tool ever.

Color Pixter and old laptop (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 9 years ago | (#13943879)

I'm in a similar situation. My son is now almost 5 and he's had a wonderful creative gameplayer for awhile now: Color Pixter. Its portable, has a nice colorful backlit LCD screen, and the only "control" is a touch stylus attached by a strong rope (no "buttons"). Most of the games involve touching pictures on the screen or outright drawing. 4-to-6 years seems to be the ideal age for this device. I do warn you, though, it does tend to eat through its 4 AA batteries. [Don't bother with the camera cartridge though -- it doesn't work well, and its the only disappointing one we've found so far.]

I also bought an old Dell CPiA-366MHz laptop computer a couple years ago, and its been pretty much relegated to playing those boxed edu-tainment titles you find at Costco at 4-for-$15. Works great for that, and doesn't take a lot of room -- much better than a desktop PC with external monitor. They're available even cheaper now (just make sure you get the A/C adapter included). You can get tonnes of C-series modules (i.e. CD-ROM drives) and parts on eBay and the like.

I haven't bothered with the "learning systems" because those kind of things tend to release a few cartidges and then go belly-up. For just "fun stuff" we softmodded our Xbox and dropped in a large hard drive to hold all the kids games. UnleashX makes a nice launcher and they can pick all the games from the menu (instead of messing with each disc), with a password function to keep the kids out of Dad's games. All the movie tie-ins seem to be released on Xbox -- Madagascar is a particularly good one for the little ones. Also makes a good emulator for all those old Atari, NES, and Genesis games. My son even plays original PLaystation games like Spyro the Dragon on our Xbox.

Old iMac for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13945107)

When my daughter was 3 we bought her a kid sized computer desk and a old G3 350 iMac. She figured it out in no time, can put the disks in by herself (back-ups a must!) start it, run it, and turn it off. Now (shes almost 5) its running OSX and connected to the internet where she has all of her favorite sites (noggin, pbskids, nickjr) bookmarked. You'll be amazed at how fast they pick it up. She also has a Gameboy SP, VSmile and plays Gamecube with me, but the iMac gets most time out of all of them......except for drawing/painting.

Leapster Wins - But I Recommend Both (1)

occamboy (583175) | more than 9 years ago | (#13947414)

My almost-six-year-old has had both for more than a year. The V.Smile is OK, but the Leapster is amazing. Using the Leapster, he's learned to read, add, subtract, and multiply. He's already facile with negative numbers - really incredible stuff for a kindergartener. And we haven't pushed him at all - he just loves the Leapster games that teach this stuff.

Since both products are relatively inexpensive, I'd recommend that you get both, and see how things work out.

Leapster (1)

Dyrandia (253125) | more than 9 years ago | (#13948871)

My 7 and 5 year old boys love their leapsters. They've had them a few years now, and I can still find new software for them that's suitable for each of their ages and skill levels. I've no experience with the other one. All things considered, they're not all that expensive, either. (I spend more on my video games!)

Leapfrog Leapster (1)

StubbornMule (606721) | more than 9 years ago | (#13950466)

We have purchased several leapfrog products for my daughter. Mostly the interactive books. Those just did not last long or hold her interest for very long. However the Leapster is a different story. It is one of the few things that will hold her interest and is educational also. She actually plays with it several times a week for up to 1-2 hours which for her is about right. The only other educational toy that will hold her attention is Casey the robot. That one is kinda neat since it spins around, moves its arms and head while it talks.

Remember? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13965319)

Remember when you were a teenager, and you nuked history class because you hated it, and you got an A in criminology because you loved it?

Same idea applies here. If your kid isn't interested in whatever he/she is doing, there's nothing you can do about it. That means no matter how many toys, how many books, and how many computers you shove at him/her, it means nothing. Just know that.

Either game device will produce the same useless result unless you work with your child. It is no timesaver for you. It can be useful, but only if you don't mind spending time with it around your child.

Know that if the kid sees no interest in whatever your helping him/her with, they aren't learning anything. You can ship a kid to school but if they're not willing to learn, they won't learn. I know this from experience - I pass all my classes, but that's only because I plan to go a university. But if I didn't want to learn, and I wasn't interested, I would be F'ing every class (pun intended).

Just try to be a kid yourself. Sample the aforementioned game devices at the store, see if as a kid you'd want to mess with this. If not, you're blowing money and time. Find a solution that, as a kid, YOU'D agree with (factoring in the tech difference from then and now).
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