8 Kid Alternatives to Grown-Up Gadgets

  • They Grow Up So Fast…

    I remember when I got my first pager. Yes, pager. I was 18, and it was kind of a big deal because at that time cellphones were only starting to find their way into people’s pockets, and almost all of them had a comically extendable antenna without which you couldn’t expect a signal to reach you through your bedroom window. But gadgets just grow up so quickly, don’t they? One minute you’re looking for a pay phone to call back the person who paged you, the next you are depositing a check in your bank account by snapping a hi-res picture of it with your iPhone. Gadgets have become a way of life, and they only promise to get more sophisticated and more powerful as time goes by, so it makes sense that tech-savvy parents will try to pass this love of personal technology down to their children. And while the market for hi-tech kids’ toys is still small, a number of toy and gadget makers are trying to cash in on parents who want their kids to have the best of what modern technology has to offer. Here are the leading kid versions of adult gadgets. Photo Credit: Endlisnis
    Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case

    OK, so it’s not exactly a smartphone for babies, but Fisher-Price’s (Stock Quote: MAT) Laugh & Learn Apptivity case turns your iPhone into an unmistakably baby-friendly learning tool. In addition to Fisher-Price’s three free learning apps that you can install on the phone itself, the case includes teething surfaces, rings to play with, and a mirror on the back so your baby can fix his or her hair before a FaceTime session with a friend. You may not buy an entire iPhone for a newborn, but if your little squirmer can’t seem to keep his or her hands away from your phone when you put it down, the Laugh & Learn case is a great way to give the child some actual benefit from the device. Age: 6 months and up Price: $15 Photo Credit: Fisher-Price.com
    LG Migo Cellphone
  • LG Migo Cellphone

    If you’re more in the market for an actual phone that your child can have for emergencies or so you can reach them whenever you want, you don’t need to spring for a full-featured phone that will confuse your kids or make it harder to monitor their behavior. LG makes a phone currently offered by Verizon Wireless (Stock Quote: VZ) in the U.S. that is just the ticket. Instead of a full number pad, the phone has four speed-dial buttons that parents can program to call whatever numbers they choose – and an emergency call button just in case a child in danger needs an easy way to call the cops. It’s a pretty simple way to get some peace of mind when you’re far away from your children. Age: not specified Price: $69.99 on Amazon Photo Credit: LG.com
    InnoTab
  • InnoTab

    Billed as a “learning app tablet,” VTech’s InnoTab is basically an iPad for toddlers, but at a fraction of the cost of Apple’s (Stock Quote: AAPL) game-changing device. For $80 you get a 5-inch touchscreen tablet with a motion sensor for games, a photo and video player, and stylus so kids can draw or color. The built-in MP3 player will also play music through the device’s speaker, which is used to read aloud the many animated and interactive e-books for the platform that help kids learn to read. What they don’t get is Internet connectivity (though considering the age-appropriateness of some Web content, that may be a good thing), but a number of games and animated e-books can be transferred to the device through a connected computer. Age: 4-9 Price: $79.99 for basic tablet, $118 and up for tablet with software package. Photo Credit: Vtech.com
    PeeWee Pivot 2.0
  • PeeWee Pivot 2.0

    If your child is a little bit older and can be trusted with the Internet, there are some laptops out there designed specifically for children. With a full QWERTY keyboard, a built-in 1.3-MP webcam and a 10.1-inch touchscreen that flips around to convert the thing into a tablet, the PeeWee Pivot 2.0 is a fully functional, but still very kid-friendly, laptop for the little ones. The kid-specific computer comes with an attached stylus so kids can practice handwriting and do homework, as well as spill-coatings and drop-resistant bumpers to match a child’s active lifestyle. Plus, the pre-installed Windows 7 Starter operating system comes with a range of art and educational games for pre-k, kindergarten and advanced kindergarten levels. Age: not specified Price: $575 Photo Credit: PeeWeePC.com
    Lightning McQueen Digital Camera
  • Lightning McQueen Digital Camera

    Whether it’s on a phone in our pockets or a point-and-shoot in our shoulder bags, we have come to record everything we do in life almost automatically. Our children are the subject of so many of our photos that it only seems right to give them some time behind the camera. That is, unless the camera is going to break the first time your kid drops it. Thankfully, gadget makers at VTech put their expertise into a kid-friendly digital camera that will stand up to the abuse while minimizing it with a body made for small hands, all while taking decent pictures and even video. Using the internal memory on the Cars 2-branded Lightning McQueen digital camera allows shutterbugs (shutterlarvae?) to store 500 pictures or 10 minutes of video, and some basic editing functions allow them to add images of their favorite Disney (Stock Quote: DIS) characters to their photos. For girls, VTech makes a Disney’s Princess Digital Camera with the same specs (though it’s more expensive on Amazon for some reason). Age: 3-7 Price: $24.99 Photo Credit: Vtech.com
    Barbie Video Girl
  • Barbie Video Girl

    While those handheld cameras have video capability, your child might be one of those multitaskers who are not necessarily interested in a simple camera. For that, Mattel’s (Stock Quote: MAT) Barbie Video Girl is a great way to get kids some digital video experience as they play with the dolls they already surely love. Hidden in the front of the doll in what looks like a nice necklace is a low-resolution (320x240 pixels) digital video camera and microphone, which will shoot approximately 25 minutes of audio and video with the doll’s 256-MB  internal memory. For playback, there’s even a screen on Barbie’s back with some basic controls, and a USB port to transfer the video files to a computer and edit them there. There is no Ken version, so some boys might be a little less interested in Barbie Video Girl than their sisters. But there is something for them too, coming up next. Age: 6 and up Price: $33.99 on Amazon Photo Credit: Barbie.com
    Movie Magic DigiCam
  • Movie Magic DigiCam

    For all the aspiring filmmakers with a Y chromosome who aren’t that into a camera with the words “Barbie” or “girl” in the name, VTech again comes to the rescue with a decidedly more boy-centered design. The Movie Magic DigiCam’s gun-like (radar gun, if you want to be specific) shape lets kids shoot people while feeling like they are actually shooting something. And the camera’s specs are some of the best on the kid market: The 1.8-inch screen on the back will display the camera’s still images (2 MP in size) and the VGA movies (at 640x480 pixel resolution) stored on its 256-MB internal memory, expandable via SD card. Accordingly though, those higher specs come with a higher price tag as well. Age: 4-6 Price: $139.99 at Amazon Photo Credit: Amazon.com
    Latte Miffy MP3 Player
  • Latte Miffy MP3 Player

    It seems like pretty much everyone has some version of a digital music player in their pockets these days, but most of them require the user to be able to read, so little kids get intellectually priced out of the market. While you can buy a basic iPod shuffle for $50, it’s a lot to spend for a little rectangle that might mean nothing to your young child. Instead, consider the Miffy MP3 player, modeled after the popular little bunny comic by the same name. Made by Latte Communications, it stores up to 500 songs and the internal battery will play for 12 hours before needing to be reloaded. It has less functionality than the iPod shuffle, but the irresistibly cute design will win fans for sure. There’s even a cute docking station with a field and little house for Miffy, which also includes a speaker and battery charging for $37. Age: not specified Price: $18.99 on Amazon Photo Credit: Amazon.com
    Tweet alongside us
  • Tweet alongside us

    Greg Emerson is a writer/editor for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at greg.emerson@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter at @emersongreg. And if you haven't already, now is a great time to follow us on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us @mainstr! Photo Credit: clevercupcakes
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