We're all parents here, which is why I think I can admit to using my iPhone as a pacifier for my kids. When the line's miles long at the grocery store or the wait at the doctor's office is unbearable, I hand it over like I would a baggie of Cheerios or juice box.
Not much thought goes into letting them swish, scroll and tap away at an expensive piece of technological equipment central to my worklife, and when my littlest gnaws it, do I cringe? Honestly, only for a nanosecond before realizing that I value the calm much more than the storm.
Fortunately for me, and for all of you out there who do the same with BlackBerrys and Kindles, VTech, the creator of the electronic learning products category, revealed much more exciting and appropriate options in the form of kid-sized electronics at the International Toy Fair in New York.
As their official VTech Mom, I was beyond exited and honored to be part of their February event at the aptly named VTech Loft, a trendy space that not only exuded techno cool, but offered parents everywhere the promise of innovative technology that brings together the best parts of education and fun.
The unveiling of their 2010 product line included the first ever collection of electronic bath toys for infants 9 months and up, and two stand-out must-haves for kids 3-7 years old: mobiGO, a touch-screen handheld game console; and FLiP, the world's first children's animated e-reader.
Little kids are all about mimicking mom and dad. Not a news flash. With mobiGO, they get their very own touch-screen learning system where classic school skills and games meet to create an awesome edu-gaming experience. Touch controls including tap, flick, pat and drag and drop are just like parent-sized technology, and the smart touch screen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and directional pad make it fun and pragmatic, yet age appropriate for the littlest kids. Click here to see Gadgetwise's video.
And, by using FLiP, kids who are new to reading can still have fun while practicing their skills since the system provides exercises in comprehension, vocabulary, phonics, word building and definitions that are easy for them to comprehend. Stories literally come to life with amazing graphics, vivid animation, narration, character voices (think Shrek, Cars, Dora, Olivia and more), sounds and music as they watch, read and learn. A downloadable library of more than 100 additional stories will be available within VTech's web site, including more themes, avatars kids can use to customize their e-readers, and even a few free titles. Click here to see my video.
Both let parents get in on the action, too, with printable progress reports and learning certificates. Better yet, FLiP is compatible with a PC or Mac.
And, until your kids get the hang of them, you might as well test the toys yourself. You know, just to make sure you understand how they work first in case anyone has questions...
Click here to see the whole collection of toys.
All of the twitvid's linked to this post were filmed by me at VTech's Toy Fair event and shared with their express permission.
Cosmotot does not accept pay for play. However, I do have a working relationship with VTech and am their official social media brand representative. Though this article is not a paid placement, I do receive compensation for my VTech role.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.