Hand held console toys for young children must be robust enough to withstand knocks, drops and sticky fingers. They should also have age appropriate games which are interesting and challenging but not too difficult.
Most family games for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft game platforms require a considerable amount of reading, making them inaccessible for most children under about 6 years of age without a considerable amount of help. The very fact that they are so small means that hand help toys like the Nintendo DS are designed to be played by only one person.
Hand Held Educational Electronic Toys for Young Children
There’s a range of small hand held electronic toys available for younger children. The price tag will indicate what is available. Very cheap hand held toys may contain one game and be easily breakable whereas more expensive models such as the Leapster or Cyber Pocket are designed to be sturdy and to take a variety of game cartridges, some of which will feature popular TV and film characters.
Leapster2 Learning Game System by Leapfrog
The Leapster2 retails in the UK for around £40 and is aimed at children aged 4 to 8 years old. It is one of a range of educational electronic toys for young children produced by Leapfrog with a strong emphasis on educational content. Parents can monitor the play time spent on the Leapster in detail including the educational progress a child is making via a free computer programme developed by Leapfrog. For preschool children it is a good alternative to the DS, especially for parents who want all toys to have educational properties.
The Leapster 2 comes in either green or pink. It looks similar to the DS with a touch screen and stylus but it does not flip open and only has one screen. It comes with games and others are available to purchase, typically for between £15 to £20. Games available include Disney Fairies and Star Wars Clone Wars.
V.Smile Cyber Pocket by Vtech
The V.Smile Cyber Pocket retails in the UK approximately £50 and is aimed at children, 5 to 9 years of age. There is a touch pad and a flip up screen. Games include popular TV, film and Disney characters. The VTech 9V AC/DC adapter can be purchased to save on batteries when there is no need to be mobile.
For younger children the other products in the V.Smile Learning System range are aimed at those aged 3 to 7 years: the V.Smile Motion, for active play, similar to the Nintendo Wii and the V.Smile Console. There is a large range of games which are compatible with all 3 toys of the V.Smile Learning System.
Portable Video Games for Preschoolers, Alternative to the DS
In some families preschool age kids already enjoy playing DS games for young children because older people in the household already have the Nintendo DS hardware. The devise itself is not ideal for the hands of young children and the range of games for pre-readers is quite small. Similar products designed for young children include the V.Smile Cyber Pocket by Vtech and the Leapster 2 Learning Game System by Leapfrog. Parents can be sure that games for these products will be suitable for the age group.
Alternatively, there are a range of educational electronic games available which are suitable for toddlers and preschoolers, from around age 2, they are packaged in designs to look like laptop computers for young children.
Pre-School Children’s Active Electronic Games
The Nintendo Wii is simple to use and can be enjoyed by all the family. There are many games for the Wii which allow or require physical activity. The hand held remote controller has motion detection technology which means players can participate in games such as golf or tennis. The Wii Balance Board detects weight and centre of gravity which enables activities such as hula hooping or tight rope walking.
Even very young children should be able to play on the Wii, alongside older people, with supervision and guidance. It is not designed as a pre-schooler’s toy, however, and children under 5 or 6 years old will need close supervision when using the equipment.
Electronic Games for Young Kids Requiring Physical Activity
There are similar products on the market which are specifically designed for young children of nursery or kindergarten age – electronic toys which encourage and require children to get up and play in a physically active way.
Fisher Price Smart Fit Park
Targeted at 3- to 6-year-olds the Smart Fit Park connects to the TV and has a touch sensitive mat. Children are encouraged to jump and bounce on the mat to control and participate in the games which are on screen. The Smart Fit Park retails in the UK for around £40 and in the US for $45.
Zippity by Leapfrog
The Zippity play mat is very similar to the Smart Fit Park, children bounce, jump and dance about on the mat to interact with a choice of games. It is available in the US for around $70 and in the UK for £45. It includes eight built-in games which feature Disney characters, including Handy Manny and Winnie the Pooh. Additional games are available to buy.
V.Smile Motion by Vtech
V.Smile is a Vtech brand which they claim is the “No.1 TV Learning System worldwide” and it is aimed at children 3 to 7 years of age. The V.Smile group of electronic toys are similar to video game consoles and portable games that might be used by older people in the family, such as Nintendo DS, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation.
V Smile Motion is similar to Wii, it connects to the TV and encourages active involvement with the games. There are a wide range of V.Smile games which retail for around £15 but may be purchased for as little as £5; some feature familiar characters such as Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, Handy Manny and Winnie the Pooh.
Like the Wii, the V Smile Motion console includes a movement detecting wireless controller and additional controllers can be purchased. The console retails for £50 in the UK and $50 in the US.
Electronic Movement Toys for Pre-School Age
The Nintendo Wii has been extremely popular, against a background of concerns about increasing rates of obesity and the reduced amount of physical activity among the general population, including children. A part of the Nintendo marketing message has been to be active and get fit at home while having fun at the same time.
It is no surprise that the leading manufacturers of toys for pre-school children have produced similar electronic toys for kids, which very young children can use and enjoy. V Smile Motion is part of the V.Smile range of consoles by Vtech. Zippity by Leapfrog and the Smart Fit Park by Fisher Price are both based on mats, and games are directed by the feet, similar to the Wii Fit balance board. Children are likely to enjoy the electronic active movement games.
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