Ever notice how everything is becoming “smart”? Not only do we have smart phones, but we also have smart watches, smart glasses, smart socks, smart TVs, smart... well, let's just say there's a lot of smart products out there. Smart gadgets are the present and the future, so it’s only natural that kids are interested in these flashy gadgets that fill our homes - I know mine is. But as amazing as it is to watch them adapt to just about any OS quicker than I ever could, these gadgets can be extremely expensive to replace. Kids might be smart and quick to figure things out, but they can also pretty careless with how they treat their "toys" from time to time. It’s because of this that I’m grateful for manufacturers developing kid-proof lines of smart gadgets.
I start window shopping for Christmas gifts around this time of year, so I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on kid-friendly smart gadgets for my 4-year-old. With him being only 4, he doesn’t need anything too expensive or pricey, but that hasn’t stopped me from looking at all of the options anyway. If you’ve got a gadget-loving tot in your life (child, niece, nephew, neighbor, etc.) then perhaps this list will help you out in some way as well given the holidays are quickly approaching us!
I might not be completely sold on the idea of smartwatches, but my son is. Both times we have seen the commercial for Kidizoom smartwatches on TV, my son has pointed to it and said that he really, really wants that watch. What I really like about the Kidizoom smartwatch is, first and foremost, the price. It’s $60, which isn't too bad compared to other kids smart gadgets on the market.
Most tablets made for kids are going to run you at least $100 or so, and in my opinion can be kind of risky to tote around. When it comes to a smartwatch, the gadget is attached to their wrist so the risk of losing it is not as great. The Kidizoom smartwatch is also pretty simple in what it allows your kid to do - take pictures, record video, play games, and change the watchface. The watch is also sweat and splash proof (i.e. don’t dunk it on purpose) but it’s still resistant against some of the elements.
Overall, this is my top pick so far when it comes to children’s smart gadgets. Not too much, but enough to keep them entertained from time to time. The only downside I can potentially see is the battery life, which has been said not to last as long as advertised and kids aren’t exactly savvy in “power saving” techniques.
I’m pretty impressed with the Nabi tablets, mostly because they have a wide range of tablets available for kids. You can choose from three different Nabi tablets: Nabi Jr., Nabi 2, and Nabi XD. Each tablet is tailored for a different age group of kids. With my son being 4, I’ve been looking at the Nabi Jr. It’s the cheapest model ($99) and features the least amount of specs, but it’s really all a 4 year old could really want.
Nabi tablets come pre-loaded with special learning software, but since the tablets run on the Android operating system you can sideload whatever Android-compatible applications you want on there. Netflix, Skype, whatever you want. It’s at least nice to have the option there if you want it.
I also like Nabi tablets for their design, which seem pretty durable against the dangerous claws of a child. Chunky, bulky, and can take a beating - that’s what my kid needs.
LeapPads are another option I’ve been looking at, and I almost like the LeapPad option over the Nabi tablet purely for one reason - it’s an educational toy tablet, and not an actual Android-based tablet. My son and my younger siblings have been using LeapFrog toys for several years now, so it’s a brand of which I’m familiar and feel comfortable with. I also dig LeapFrog’s “Web-safe Wi-Fi” powered by Zui, which means that kids can’t access any websites that aren’t age appropriate. This is available in LeapFrog’s latest line of tablets, the LeapPad3.
Mostly, I just really like that this tablet is designed to be a toy tablet, and not a real tablet with toy-like design.
Among all of the tablets and gadgets geared towards kids on the market, these are the three that stand out to me the most. They all have different appeals: smartwatch, versatile Android tablet, or strictly kids learning tablet. Each of these products falls under $200 as well, which... okay, might be a little steep for a child’s play thing; still, at least these investments won’t be as easily broken as other $50-$150 smart gadgets that children want to play with.
Readers, when it comes to children’s smart gadgets, what has your experience been? Do your kids have a favorite smart gadget that they like to play with? Did you find the investment worth it in the end? Share your opinions with us in the comments below!