On long journeys, we try to keep the children occupied by reading, listening to music, and playing games like I-Spy. There’s only so long that can work, though; and that’s when electronic equipment comes in handy. When we were asked to review the new LeapPad Platinum from Leapfrog, I was interested to see how well it would suit my daughter, aged four.
Here she is, testing it out, with plenty of input from her big brother (who loves his gadgets):
My daughter hasn’t owned a tablet before, mainly because we didn’t want her to become too focused on playing on-screen games, to the detriment of more hands-on, sensory play. But technology is part of the curriculum now, so it’s important for kids to learn about the multi-media world we live in. And the LeapPad Platinum’s a good choice of first tablet, for someone my daughter’s age, for a number of reasons:
- it’s tough, with a seven-inch shatter-proof screen and a brightly coloured ‘bumper’ around the edge (available in purple or green)
- if parents want, they can enable wi-fi access, which allows children to browse the LeapSearch engine. This is a closed network (so they can’t accidentally end up on a dodgy youtube channel) and has lots of learning resources, plus fun stuff like songs and videos about girl football players
- the wi-fi also allows young players to connect up with friends who have a LeapPad Platinum, and be social through playing games like ‘Pet Chat’ together
- the LeapPad Platinum has two cameras and video recorders, so children can take pictures and selfies. Some of the LeapPad games incorporate these pictures and videos, so young players can be creative
- it comes with a few games already available, and parents can pay to download over 800 games, ebooks and videos, which are all approved by educators. Some are tie-ins with popular programmes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Doc McStuffin and Paw Patrol
- children registered on the LeapPad Platinum give their ages, so that games and learning resources can be tailored towards them
The LeapPad Platinum felt robust, and includes a tethered stylus, so that little fingers can type and swipe more easily. Our daughter was very excited to own a tablet, just like her big brother; it’s a bit of a rite of passage for youngsters, but there’s always the anxiety over whether young children will be able to access unsuitable material from the internet. There would be no such worry with the LeapPad Platinum. The parental controls are incredibly tight.
After creating a password-protected account, parents can control how long their child spends on the LeapPad; whether the wi-fi is switched on or not; and how much access the child has to the app centre – eg whether they can see how much the apps cost. If parents want, children can set up a wish-list in the app centre, but they can’t download anything without permission.
These tight restrictions are reassuring, but this can be one of the downsides of the LeapPad Platinum. I’ve heard from parents with slightly older children that their youngster can get frustrated by the lack of access to more mainstream games like, say, Pokemon. But that may or may not be a bonus, depending on your viewpoint.
My daughter was very excited by her LeapPad Platinum, and even her big brother (aged seven) was enthusiastic about playing Pet Pad Party, and Mr Pencil Carnival Creator, the game my daughter chose as her free download.
Do your children own tablets? Which sort do they prefer?
We were sent a LeapPad Platinum for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.