Is your toddler addicted to your iPad & iPhone?

Today’s toddlers and preschoolers have a new addiction. Forget the boob tube and those pesky videos – now we’re talking about little fingers that are incredibly adept at navigating  APPS  on your pricey iPad and/or  iPhone.

What’s a toy maker to do? How can they compete with such amazing graphics?

Wasn’t it bad enough that video games have rob them of the tween market?

Here’s the industry response to date…

1. The “Can’t beat them, join them” approach.  It seems like everyone has an APP  for your child. Barbie, Leapfrog, Hot Wheels, Thinkfun….everywhere we went at Toy Fair…there was an APP we needed to “let our readers know about.” (Except of course for the dizzying number of embargo dates). And yes, we will have to start taking a closer look at all of these toy related APPs.  I haven’t gotten to play with it yet, but I do have to say that the Barbie Fashionista APP–looked really appealing (this coming from someone who really didn’t play with Barbies).

Barbie's Fashionista APP

2. “This is not your father’s iPad” – really. Toy makers are rolling out there own versions of iPad inspired tablets for your child.  LeapFrog and VTech will  go head to head with their platforms.  Are they cheaper? Yes.  Will your child be satisfied? Maybe.  As with any of these toys, they just don’t have the sizzle of the real thing (which is why toy companies are hedging their bets with approach #1.)  We will have to take a look at each of these products to review the content (remember that?) and whether the interface is pleasing.  I have a sense that if your toddler or preschooler is already schooled in your gadgets, this is going to be a hard transition.  On the other hand, if you start here–you may get to play with your gadget without the constant refrain of  “my turn!”

Vying for attention (all to be released later this year):

LeapFrog Explorer Tablet

LeapPad Explorer Tablet (LeapFrog)- Promises to come with a 5″ screen and leverages the library of games and content from this educational toy company.  It will also come with a built in camera. Suggested retail will be $99.99.

VTECH InnoPad

InnoPad (VTech) -Also features a 5″ touch screen, promises educational games, ebooks,  USB port, a headphone jack.  Suggested retail will be $79.99.

We’ll have to take a look. Sadly, both companies have moved away from partnerships with traditional publishers –leaving the ebook experience to the domain of mostly licensed materials. On this point alone, you may want to invest in a Color Nook–if you don’t want to go the bigger bucks on an iPad.  Technology only goes so far.  The CONTENT is still what should rule the day. We want our kids enjoy reading quality picture books no matter the format.  Disney Princesses and Scooby Doo are fun–but they shouldn’t replace children’s books as part of your child’s daily experience.

3. The “Ok, you can play,  but please don’t break it” approach. Handing  off  your  expensive toys to a toddler or preschooler is a balancing act between achieving calm (at the grocery store, at the restaurant, in the car, etc.) and the possible damage that came come to such gadgets from liquids (those pesky sippy cups) or a plain old “oops” moments. For those parents, Fisher-Price hopes to be of assistance with their new Laugh & Learn I Can Play Case that puts your smart phone into a bigger case with easy-to-grab handles. We look forward to trying this case–will little fingers find the case too intrusive? Of course your 3 year old will find this way too babyish.

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn I Can Play Case

9 thoughts on “Is your toddler addicted to your iPad & iPhone?

  1. This is a great discussion starter! David Pogue, tech editor at the NY Times, wrote a great piece on this the other day. In his post “A Parent’s Struggle With a Child’s iPad Addiction,” he shares the conflict parents often feel when giving their child a screen to occupy them, but not feeling terribly guilty because with iPad there really are very high-quality, apps that provide engaging, authentic learning opportunities!

    Great post, and here’s a link to his!
    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/a-parents-struggle-with-a-childs-ipad-addiction/

  2. Hi Charlotte! One of my media buddies called David’s article to my attention right after I posted my piece today! I missed his yesterday.
    As with any new technology, parents are going to have to work out what they feel comfortable with for their kids depending on their age.
    With older kids we have found that once a game system comes into a house–many other kinds of play disappear. It’s hard for most games and construction sets to compete with the bells and whistles of video gaming.
    The problem here – is that we are no longer talking only about kids aging out of toyland (tweens) – but kids just entering the heart of their childhood play experiences. Young children really need a full mix of play opportunities – those that exercise their big muscles and those that help develop their ability to pretend and imagination. Those small screen are, as anyone who has lost themselves on their smartphone or tablet, incredibly engrossing. And, as cute and amazing as it is to watch a 18 month old navigate an iPad APP–it should not be allowed to become the main form of entertainment and play.

  3. Hi Stephanie, I wanted to throw our new product in the ring. BubCap home button covers are made specifically for toddlers who are addicted to pressing the home button on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you’d like to check them out, contact me at BubCap.com.

    Like David Pogue, I also struggle with figuring out the proper boundaries for my 2yo son. There is no doubt, my son has learned a lot of words, numerals, and letters, and also developed some motor skills, thanks to some of the educational apps we let him use. However, I think we all need to figure out limits and stick to them; like educational TV, there are benefits, but too much TV time is definitely not good.

    BTW, I think educational apps are, in many ways, more beneficial than educational TV. With TV, kids can just zombie out, but with most Apps, kids are forced to interact. Of course, each show or app must be judged independently by the parent.

  4. Thanks Rob! Your product sounds like something we should try with our testers. Please feel free to submit a sample to us at toyportfolio.com. The submission forms are on our site.

  5. love the post! Our son is 17 months old, and we purchased our ipad on valentines day.. for mommy.. as it turns out my son absolutely loves it and can work it like a pro. i have all his apps on one page together and he knows to swipe it until he finds his… our favorite apps are monkey preschool lunch box, bus hd by duck duck moose and toddlers farm. Wish they had more apps from shows on nick jr and disney junior though :)

  6. Must get the Addycase. It protects the home button so that kids can simply enjoy the app they are in. To buy one or learn more about it, visit: addycase.com

  7. Pingback: leappad leapfrog

  8. yes, I agree that all these products are great but make sure that they play it only for a limited time. Too much of everything is not good for the child uuuu

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