Why get a toddler computer? Well, toddlers like to be exactly like mom and dad, and if you use a computer, your toddler will want their own computer too. It doesn’t mean he needs a computer; in fact, a good case can be made by limiting exposure to electronics for little people. But if you do decide to surprise your little guy with a laptop to use when you’re pecking away at your own laptop, you have plenty of options.
A toddler’s computer is basically a learning station; built to look like an imitation of mom or dad’s larger machine but with very different functions. Some toddler-oriented computers are meant to teach your child his colors, numbers, or letters. Some have fun preschool songs programmed into them. All of them bill themselves as “educational”, “entertaining”, and “fun” for little people.
When you choose your toddler’s computer, choose something that is:
Durable is important because your toddler won’t be as gentle with his computer as you are with yours. A toddler’s computer needs to be able to handle drops, falls, and even the occasional crash. A hard-to-understand ‘computer’ won’t be used much, and when it is used, you’ll have to help: something that gets old quickly. So make sure your toddler’s computer is intuitive. It’s also important that it is versatile; if it contains three simple learning games and your toddler masters them the first week, the ‘computer’ will be essential useless.
What about that fourth criteria? You’re going to be living with this machine, and if your toddler is bleeping away whenever you’re trying to concentrate on something on your own computer, you will be living in a migraine. Choose something that has low sound, or, at least, has a mute option.
One top-rated and popular toddler computer is the Leapfrog My Own Leaptop; choose between pink and green colors. It’s not quite as flashy as some, the songs are tinny and the display is pixelated and black and white, but it is much-loved by little people who enjoy working on a machine that looks like mom and dad’s, and it is loved by parents who enjoy seeing their children learning as they play. There are song modes, alphabet modes, and your child can also use it to learn his name. There’s even a mode in which your child can play with an imitation ‘messaging’ system. It’s fairly budget friendly, and can stand some rough toddler treatment, though not an infinite amount of throwing around.
This miniature computer does have sound—with two settings—but neither of them are obnoxiously loud. It takes 3AAA batteries, so you’ll want to keep a store of those at home if your toddler likes to play with this a lot.
This is the toy computer your child will probably enjoy playing with and can learn the alphabet (including the phonics sounds of each letter) from, but remember it’s not a substitute for mom-and-dad teaching time, and try to make sure you give your child plenty of personal interaction as well as buying him whatever educational gadgets you do.