27 June 2011

Leapster2: Input, Advice, Thoughts

Just a quick post/poll/solicitation of advice; apologies to my FB friends who are seeing this twice.
Do any of you have a kid or kids with a Leapster2? M&R got them for their b-days (although they don't know that yet) and I'm just wondering what to expect. Is it actually educational? They each get one free download from the list below; any recommendations?
1. Dragon Kingdom. Teaches: letters, numbers and drawing.
2. Chicken Coop. Teaches: letters, matching and memory skills.
3. Rabbit River. Teaches: letters, numbers and shapes.
4. Shape Shop. Teaches: shapes and matching skills.

I'm not very excited about entering the world of videogames, handheld devices, and high-intensity marketing to kids, but M&R have seen the boxes for these devices on our bookshelves and know that *something* is up. In addition to tips on what to expect in terms of educational v. entertainment value, I'd appreciate hearing what your experiences have been in policing use of devices like this and what kinds of ground rules you've set. I realize that much of that is kid-specific; I can tell you already that Maddie will be self-regulating on something like this whereas Riley will be completely obsessed to the exclusion of everything else until one day he moves on to something else. But general guidelines/impressions/thoughts are appreciated.

Cliché, but true: they grow up so fast. I'm not ready for this!


Amber said...

First off, I have no input/advice/thoughts at all. Sorry.

But it did remind me of something funny. Today we saw a poster of "Angry Birds" and Cayden was convinced we should get it for Riley. His reasoning was that R is "obsessed!" with the game. So yeah, maybe your assessment is accurate. :)

On a slightly more random note, after that conversation I mentioned something about "the twins," and Cayden gasped... "M and R are TWINS?! I never would have guessed!" I wanted to ask why that shocked him so much and how far apart in age he thought they were, but he got distracted and was gone (story of my life).

Jeanette said...

My daughter had a leapster when she was M & R's age. I found it highly educational, but what I liked best was using it as *ahem* a behavior modification tool. She was also obsessed, and taking away the leapster for a day was a very easy consequence to leverage.

Rachel said...

This is a great great great toy! They are fun, not violent and very educational. They also make plane rides and long car trips easy for parents/children.

All of the downloads are fun. I would say Rabbit River is the most game like. I didn't police Leapster because it is academic but I made sure they still had a balance of play time/reading time etc. I would not put Leapster and video games in the same category. Video games are purely recreational for the most part. I only let my kids play their video games on the weekend and i use it as an incentive tool too.

Goddess in Progress said...

I don't know that device, specifically. But we did have a game-time issue in my house. My kids love to play games on the iPhone/iPad, the computer, or the Wii. And while the the games are either educational (a SuperWhy game for the computer) or at least benign/inoffensive, I did have a problem that they were playing too much and it became too easy for me to say "yes" just to get some quiet time.

I recently instituted a star chart for them to earn video game time and other treats. They earn a star for things like making their beds, clearing the dishes, etc. Five stars earns you half an hour of game time. It's working great. (And, I'm actually using an iPhone/iPad app for the stars instead of the old paper-on-the-fridge thing... of course!)

Anonymous said...

My daughter had one of the original Leapsters, and we thought it was great. When my older child was that age, they didn't have something like that. After the initial "rush" of excitement wears off, I think you will find it is not that big a deal to keep it from being "too much". The games are almost all education based, you can use it as a treat, or maybe during long car rides or airplane rides or long waits at DMV - I definitely felt it was valuable w/o feeding too much into the video game obsession.

I laughed at Jeanette's comment about "behavior modification" tool - that would have been my son! I also second Rabbit River, the whole series was good.


Snoopyfan said...

Both of my kids have Leapsters (one old school and one Leapster 2) and loved them. My daughter is now 8 and outgrew hers about a year ago and started wanting a DS. She still plays with it sometimes when her brother (turning 5 next week) gets his out. She got her DS for Christmas.

Their most played games are Get Puzzled, Math Mission, and Creature Create. My son also loves playing Finding Nemo, Cars, and Toy Story 3. We downloaded Dragon Kingdom to his and he plays it occasionally and really likes it.

Amanda said...

My 4.5yo got a Leapster2 for Christmas. We picked the Dragon game for his free game. I think it's a great way to tiptoe into the portable games world. The games are educational-ish, no violence or questionable material.

We haven't really had the obsession problem. It's fantastic for long car rides (we live far from family) or times when we need him to be safely occupied (mostly so we can sleep in on the weekends!).

He was wanting a DSI, so this was a good way to delay more advanced gaming.

Becky said...

My son, who will be 5 in a few weeks got one for Christmas. We downloaded the Chicken Coop game which he likes (although the sounds on it are annoying!). He will play with it for a few days and then not for a few months. Thankfully he really isn't into video games yet, so we really haven't had to put any regulations in place.

Johannah said...

My kids didn't get too obsessed with it, but we have a general rule for "screens" in our house. No screens during the school/day camp week, and usually half hour increments on non-school days. Parents decide on one, two, or three half hour increments on non-school days. Behavior plays into the decision. So does willingness to release the screen without whining when the half hour ends.

My son has some learning challenges. He found the leapster games too hard at first, but now (7) he enjoys them. In terms of education, they aren't a candle to reading a book but they are skills practice a random and otherwise harmless video game wouldn't provide.

Lil'Sis said...

My crew loved it, it wasn't hard to police, my son was more of the obsessive than my girls, when they first got them certainly they wanted to play it right away, the games are all educational, like others said good for trips, but it didn't really impact their usual schedule long-term, on rainy days when crafts and activities got boring they liked to turn to it before a movie so I thought that was a plus. After the first several months they really became a "car-toy" or "rainy day toy".

Good luck!

Jan said...

I don't know anything about those specific games, but we do have the electronics concerns, so I thought I'd share the way we handle it. Our kids are 5 and 7.

We have a Wii. The kids play it only if we're playing as a family. So instead of an isolating activity, it's a social one.

I telecommute from home and our home computer is set up in the same office (different desk) as my work computer. So if I'm working, the kids are allowed to play games or do online activities on our home computer. My daughter likes the Magic Treehouse website, my son likes the KidPix (kiddie PhotoShop) program and they both enjoy Sprout Online.

I guess what we did was figure out what concerned us about the electronics usage and try to address those specific issues, rather than say no altogether. For us, those issues are: isolation, inactivity and exposure to violence. Most of our Wii games are the active ones, we play as a family and we avoid any sort of first-person violence games.

liz said...

We had a Leapster for MM, but not those particular games. It was a good thing for the car.

Tina said...

my daughter got the leapster Explorer for xmas and she is about to turn 5. you really can't go wrong with any of the games as they are all educational. it is great when you have car trips or need to keep them occupied in public places, we did get headphones as the music can drive you crazy!! Happy Birthday to M&R and congrats on your new place!

Peg said...

Our 4 year old has a hand me down Leapster from his older brother (now 11) and loves it. You can't miss with any of the games and I think his number and letter recognition is due to his leapster. He does go through phases with it and won't touch it for weeks and then randomly pick it up on a long car ride.

Bevin Flannery said...

My kids (now 8 and 6) both greatly enjoyed their Leapsters. Many of the games were far more educational than I expected, and really helped both of them with spelling, reading and math. I highly recommend scouting out ebay for used game cartridges -- the Leapster 2 is backwards compatible for game made for the Leapster, as well as Leapster LMax.

Michelle said...

My daughter's Leapster lives in the car. She has Pet Pals, Tangled, and Toy Story 3. She is 4 and will be 5 in October.

It is good for car rides and she hasn't shown any inclination to bring it inside. Good luck!

Jody said...

My son (5.5 years old) has a Mobigo (similar to Leapster) and we just lump it in with "screen time". We decide how much screen time he gets in any given day (he does get a little bit on most days, though some not at all) and any tv, computer, wii, mobigo, or ipad use counts towards that screen time.

He does not get free reign over everything, but sometimes we'll tell him (for example) he can watch a 30 minute show OR play on the ipad. He can choose, but he knows it all counts towards the overall total.

My personal feeling is that--educational or not--too much screen time is not a good thing. That said, I enjoy my "screen time" as much as the next person, so we try to allow him the pleasure he so obviously gets from those screen-ish activities!

Sandi said...

The games are all educational and the kids don't get "addicted" to the Leapster. I am very much against having video game systems, etc. for young children, but I actually do like the Leapster.

Meredith said...

We got my son one when he was 5 - we also got the tool that turns it into a digital camera. He loves it! It has actually helped him learn to read and do math and he has done some very creative videos with music. I think it is a good tool but of course, like anything, can't over do it - we restrict it to one hour a day and like another commenter said, it is an excellent behavior modification tool with the threat of losing it for a day or two.