Children and technology is a difficult issue for many parents. Kids are enormously keen to get their hands on tablets and smartphones, constantly wailing that it’s not fair and that, “Everyone else who’s six has an iPhone!” On the other hand, it’s easy for them to become enmeshed in social media and online gaming to the extent that they become strangers to conversation and the real world.
It’s about balancing screen time, age-appropriate apps and content, safety awareness and making sure that using technology comes naturally. It’s also important to encourage technological learning as you don’t want your children to be left out or left behind. Also, it’s handy to have a nappy-wearing tech guru on hand to sort out your broadband issues! Here’s our pick of the best technology for pre-schoolers to teens…
LeapPad offer a range of technological toys including first laptops, and even an interactive puppy. Their newest innovation is the LeapStart, which is a reading assistance toy for kids aged 4-6, with lots of replayable activity books available to spark interest in everything from science to social skills. The stylus contains a tiny camera, which triggers the battery-operated system’s audio to bring games, songs and jokes to life. Each book in the library is packed with over 30 activities. Available £39.99 for the Leapstart unit and £5 or £10 per book from leapstartstore.co.uk
Keyboard skills may be essential these days, even when you’re five, but handwriting also needs to be mastered. Stabilo’s SMARTball 2.0 doubles up as a great ergonomically designed pen which is easy on small hands. The grip makes writing smoothly easier while the stylus works with all touch screen devices. The best of both worlds. Available from stationers and stabilo.co.uk for £12.00.
For a completely different take on technology, the award winning Cubetto will teach your kids how to code simple programs using a friendly wooden robot, powered by a revolutionary coding language made of tangible blocks, instead of text on screens. The fun hands-on play helping the robot get around also develops logical thinking, sequencing and coding skills, without the tedium associated with some learning toys. At £159, it’s not cheap, but it could help develop essential skills.
Code Master, which is designed for kids of eight or over, uses programming skills to navigate a map in search of power crystals. It builds planning, sequential reasoning and problem-solving skills. It picked up the 2016 Science Toy Award and is available from The Science Museum’s online shop and selected toy stores for £17.49.
For older kids with an interest in science and technology, Maplin have a great selection of tech toys, with everything from robot arms to Makey-Makey kits that involve some astonishing uses for a banana! Better yet, the staff are genuinely knowledgeable and very helpful – ideal for when you get stuck!
Lastly, get some decent earphones for your child. Not only will they provide protection at events such as festivals and protect their hearing, but they also provide essential relief for parents who may be slightly weary of hearing “Let it Go!” for the thirtieth time since breakfast. You’ll find these Groov-e Kiddiez a bit of a godsend. Around £14 from Amazon or Tesco.