Most overrated

The “it” toy to have this year Leapfrog LeaPad Explorer Tablet which retails for $99. People are in a heck of snit to buy this thing because they’re selling on eBay (et al) for around $200.

To all the moms and dads out there freaking out because they can’t get their hands on it, allow me to say this, Leapfrog sort of sucks. Sure, the way they combine learning and gaming is awesome but, in the long run, their devices aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

I know because for a few years my son loved his Didj. What, you don’t know what a Didj is? You’ve never heard of it? I’m not surprised. It’s because the Leapfrog toy that my son has had for three years isn’t in stores anymore. The toy I paid upwards of $100 for only had a dozen or so games that were ever released. About 6-months after we purchased it, the device went on sale for 50% off. Shortly thereafter games I paid $30 for were selling in the clearance section for $5. Not long after that they were impossible to find. Not long after that Leapfrog quit sending updates. The Didj has been a drawer somewhere for upwards of a year. It’s totally useless.

I’ve talked to some other mom friends about my Leapfrog experience and it seems I’m not alone. They make a decent product for a year or so, then they quit making it or anything compatible with it. Gotta love compulsive consumerism, eh?

What. a. waste.

So, to the parents out there freaking out about the lack of Leap Pad, I offer the following (better) alternatives:

1. Nintendo DS– It’s more expensive but there are a ton more games (yes, even educational games) and it’s something that will grow with your child. They’ll be just as likely to play with it when they’re 10 as when they’re four. Games range in the $15-$30 range and are easily found at retailers. My older kids have had theirs for about a year. They DS is tough as nails and they still play with them all. the. time.

2. iPod Touch– Again, you’re going to pay more upfront for the Touch BUT most kid-friend apps cost 99¢- $1.99. Just buy a good protective case and film. We own three of them. My toddler uses them with no problem whatsoever, my 9-year old plays the funky intellectual games, while my 6-year old loves Hanging With Friends (she helps me) and other learning apps.

3. Books. Yeah, books. Low-tech, never need charging, portable, affordable, awesome. Later this week I’m going to post at least twenty books that my kids and I love. But, really, I don’t think there’s a better gift on the planet for a child than books.

So, tell me, what’s the MUST HAVE gift to give on your list this year?



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