With the ever-growing use of technology, it’s hard to ignore how many parents are resorting to electronics to help occupy their children, particularly toddlers. You see toddlers and tablets everywhere, and you’ll see them especially when families are traveling. When tablets came to the market, it was gadget that everyone needed and loved. It’s been well over a decade since we gained a more advanced tablet version. Since most people don’t know the history of tablets, let’s do a rapid rundown.
Though these versions may not be familiar to most, they are an essential part of the tablets we know today.
- The Linus-Write Top (1987) was one of the first tablets the user could write on with a stylus.
- MessagePad (1993) was Apple’s first PDA (personal digital assistant).
- The PalmPilot (1997) proved to be more successful than the MessagePad.
- Microsoft Tablet (2000) was the first to be deemed the “Tablet PC.”
- Apple iPad (2010) was the first touch screen tablet and made the largest impact.
- Samsung Galaxy Tablet (2010) wasn’t a hit but quickly won over users.
- Amazon Kindle Fire (2011) proved that tablets could be inexpensive and still great.
- LeapFrog (2011) came out with its parent-approved tablet.
- Microsoft Surface (2012) put Microsoft back in the game.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition (2014) was the first kid-inspired and parent-designed tablet.
Since 2014, computer companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, and others have continued making history with more user-friendly tablets. Though most of these have similar features, they are still not the recommended electronics for toddlers and children. After a few years, parents started handing over their tablets to occupy their toddlers and kids. Tablets quickly turned into an opportunity for parents to get things done, while still providing engaging interactions for their young ones.
Shout out to Amazon for creating the Kids Edition Kindle Tablet, as it paved the way for more companies to make parent-approved and toddler-friendly tablets.
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LeapFrog Toddler Tablets
Thanks to tablet innovations, many children’s toy brands created electronic devices to provide learning opportunities for kids. The leading children’s brand LeapFrog started following the tablet market and made its own toddler-friendly device in 1999. Fast-forward to 2011, when the company made the LeapPad Explorer Line. This line focused on easy learning, making parents feel good about their kid’s exposure.
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LeapFrog tablets proved to be great electronics for toddlers and young kids, as designers emphasized learning and progress for young minds of all ages. LeapFrog offers four varieties, including the LeapPad Academy, LeapPad Ultimate, LeapFrog Epic Academy, and LeapFrog Epic. Unfortunately, we were only able to find two of their tablets.
LeapPad Academy is a kid-safe tablet that comes preloaded with 20 educational games safe for kids 3-8 years old. This tablet offers a 7” shatter-safe screen with bumper cover, stylus, and kickstand. It allows toddlers and children to safely play games and watch parent-approved shows without the fear of breaking the tablet. LeapPad Academy has user-friendly parent controls and time limits for the recommended screen time. There’s also a bonus of three months of LeapFrog Academy, which are the company’s interactive learning program with over 2,000 games and activities to help children learn. This tablet retails for $124.99 on the LeapFrog website.
LeapPad Ultimate Ready for School Tablet is kid-safe and is for children 3-6 years old. It comes preloaded with games, apps, and music designed to help toddlers and young children prepare for their educational journey. According to the LeapFrog website, it retails for $99.99 but isn’t available through any retailers.
Consumers can purchase most of the LeapFrog Tablets through Walmart, Target, and other major retailers.
Amazon Amazes Parents
Amazon amazes parents time after time, but especially with their Kindle for kids. As of 2022, the Amazon Fire and Amazon HD are parents’ and educators’ top tablet picks. Toddlers as young as two years are picking up their tablets to learn with their favorite characters like Elmo, Grover, Pinkfong, Mickey Mouse, and more. Good Housekeeping listed Amazon’s Fire HD 8 tablet as the best for little kids.
Amazon tablets offer preloaded activities, games, and movies with premium parental controls, time limitations, and Firewalls. Amazon users ranked this tablet as number one, while an impressive reviewing crowd of just under 120,000 ranked it with 4.5 stars. It also comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee encouraging parents to take the leap of faith and purchase, knowing they can exchange the tablet if or when their toddler drops and breaks it.
Amazon has four varieties: a 7” inch screen, two 8” screens, and one 10” screen. The storage space and battery longevity vary with each version, but the parent controls, user-friendly design, and pricing are all similar. Parents can purchase these tablets from $109.99 to $139.99 on Amazon.
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Problems With Toddlers And Tablets
So what’s the problem with toddlers and tablets? Technology is typically beneficial and can offer toddlers positive learning opportunities. However, there are numerous studies correlating toddler screen time with aggression. Little minds often become overstimulated and too much tablet time massively overstimulates them. Toddlers lack the proper skills for emotion-based communication, which often leads to them feeling frustrated and unable to express their emotions well. Hitting, biting, kicking, and other aggressive actions can be common in frustrated and overstimulated toddlers. Though the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has not updated its suggestions on screen time since 2020, many pediatricians agree with the following guidelines:
- 18 months and younger are limited to video chats with loved ones
- 18 to 24 months to watching educational programs with a guardian
- Toddlers and children 2-5 years old to one hour of screen time daily
- Children 6 years and older to limit activities that include screens
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Educators and pediatricians suggest that pretend play is the best way toddlers learn. Pretend play can rapidly advance many toddlers and children, and in fact, this is how many parents and pediatricians gauge how a child is hitting his/her milestones. Toddler screen time can take away from learning and interactive play. There’s also that element of what they are accessing through their tablets. What I’ve found out is many parents don’t know what the devices on their home network are accessing. Getting your toddler a tablet adds another security risk and another device you have to manage. It’s not impossible to do, but knowing what they are accessing through your home network is another component to be aware of.
With so many tablet choices, there’s bound to be one that works for your little one. Make sure to discuss all your options and even meet with your toddler’s pediatrician to see what they may recommend.