Help? Electronic Devices for Young First Grader

Updated on November 10, 2012
C.S. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
12 answers

Background: We are atypical parents. My son didn't watch ANY TV until after his 2nd birthday per American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines, didn't use a computer until he was 4 and still does not own any electronic devices at the age of 6. We are not techie (no smart phones) and only recently got wireless when we upgraded to a laptop from our old desktops. We don't stream video content and don't watch much TV ourselves.... You can see that we are a bit different.

Well, my son started asking for a Leapster Explorer. I've asked if he wants a Leap Pad and he always told me no, the explorer. Last weekend, we went to a bday party for a school mate at a JumpZone and another child brought his iPad and played on it the whole time (with the other children jockeying for position!). And now my dear son wants an iPad for Christmas. I've already told him no - that won't happen but am looking into other devices. I will NOT pay a monthly fee for any device.

What do you suggest? Is he too old for a Leapster Explorer or Leap Pad now? Someone suggested a Kindle but they don't seem to have many games for kids. Are there other things I am not considering? Thanks! C. - who usually wishes computers hadn't been invented!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My 1st grader has a Leapster that he's outgrown. We are buying him a DS for Christmas. He goes to an after school program, and on Fridays, as a special treat, they are allowed to bring in an electronic game to play after they finish their homework. All the other kids have a DS.

(We are not a "if other kids have it, you need to get it too" family. That's not why we are buying it. But I point it out as a gauge as to what other kids of that age are interested in.)

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answers from New York on

I'm writing in to respectfully disagree with the poster below.

In Silicon Valley, the most popular private school for tech executives' kids, the hardest one to get into, is the Waldorf school, where children use no technology whatsoever, not even word processing, and where families are strongly discouraged from ever turning on the TV. A Google executive who sends his kids there was quoted as saying that the way the technology is going, it's going to be effortless to learn, and that kids really need to build their other mental muscles before they encounter it.

In my own family (and Lord knows we are not Google executives, financially speaking), my 6-year-old is allowed one, count-em one, night per week when he can watch cartoons and play video games, all done on a standard-issue laptop. He reads at a 4th-grade level. I do not think this is a coincidence.

I suspect that just about everyone will be responding with the opposite point of view, but I wanted to get this perspective out there.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

Congrats on keeping the electronics to almost nothing. Both my husband and I are both very tech savy, but still don't buy all the electronics for our daughter. I want her creativity to develop without the use of games that are completely designed for her. She does have a Kindle because she loves to read, and at 8, reads at a 10-grade level. I was getting tired of books all over the place. As she gets older, if she wants any of the toys, she has to earn money to buy it herself.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think he's too old for a leapster or a leappad. At this age, a Kindle Fire or an ipod touch seem to be the common devices. The ipod touch (and an ipad for that matter) does not have a monthly fee. It's not cheap though to buy the device in the first place.

I think a 6 year old is too young for an ipad and they don't need something that fancy.

Are you buying this because you want him to have it, or because his friends have it so he's whining for it? Don't give in if it goes against what you believe. If you do buy it, make sure he knows that even though it's his device, you are in charge of it. You determine when he plays, for how long he plays, and what he plays. He should not have access to download his own apps, even free ones and there should be set ground rules on when and where he can play.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Little kids do NOT need tons of electronic games at all. I totally agree with Mira.
When I read things like this, I just happen to remember the following:
Time ago, my little one, 5 at that time , was building a puzzle and a lego figure while watching his older brother in a Martial Art class; next to him there was another little boy (he said 5 also) who was playing with his DS, he was SO immensely concentrated moving his little fingers at light speed...My kid invited him to build with him, and this kid took a pair of pieces, tried to build and got frustrated, he said:" I am not good at it!..let's play with my DS"...My son had never played with one before (we didn't want to get one)..and he looked at the DS, asked a couple of questions to the kid, and ..yes! there he was playing with that thing....Actually I felt very proud of him and I thought, wow what a lesson....!
All I am saying H. is that technology is important, that we have to keep up with modern life and all that song; but I will not let my child to get addicted to an easy life and ruins his brains just because marketers want to sell stuff, or because it is easier this way to get the kids occupied, or because the neighbor has it...... I am so proud that my kid entertains himself, he is never bored, and he enjoys outdoors, his toys and books ....I have seen so many little ones playing with the kind of games mentioned H., and after they are D. with it, they are whining and crying to mom saying they are bored and need something new to play with or another new version of it, etc.........It is sad, and I don't feel old fashion for saying this..I feel that I am doing the right thing. Do whatever YOU think is right for your kids, they will catch up on technology at any time later....

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answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the Kindle Fire. I have one and my 6y can play games with no problem. There is also a TON of free games available.
I am thinking of getting my 6y her own for Christmas. She plays with mine more than her DS, Wii or Xbox360.

A regular Kindle Fire would work. No need for Kindle Fire HD.


answers from Lansing on

I personally feel he'll be too old for a Leap Pad or explorer also.

But I also think an iPad would be over the top expensive for a 6 year old. (Kudos to those that can afford it)

A kindle fire or Ipod touch is a good compromise. Keep in mind most schools now are equipped with iPads and there are a TON of educational apps available out there. So he may be exposed at school anyway.

I own a iPad and my kids play on it here and there. I've used it for practicing spelling words - an app that allows you to input the words and your child can study and take practice tests. Also for a math game - a fun way for them to practice math. And my youngest was just struggling with letter sounds and wouldn't you know I found a great app to have her play allowing her to practice those.

And those are just some of the educational games. My children also love playing some popular games like angry birds, wheres my water and fruit ninja. Not to mention the easy bake oven game where they can make & decorate cookies & cakes. - FYI I know these are all available for Ipod touch and pretty positive would be for kindle fire also.

So....I would lean towards a kindle fire or Ipod touch if I was you. :) (ETA - None of these you would have to pay a monthly fee)


answers from Jacksonville on

Before you rule out the ipad (although, "I" wouldn't be buying one for a 6 yr old... because it is an expensive device)... you should know that you don't necessarily have a monthly fee. For an iPHONE, yes. Not an ipad. Like an iPod, it connects to the internet wirelessly, but you don't HAVE to connect it everywhere you go.
Your son could use it at home (you have wi-fi there) or other hotspots if you want. I'd be leary of letting a 6 yr old carry an ipad around anywhere outside the home, personally. But that is just me.
You CAN sign up for a wireless plan that allows you to use the ipad to access internet everywhere all the time, but you don't HAVE to.
And it depends on how you plan to use it if you would want/need to do that. Always using it at home? No need for a wireless access plan. You already have wi-fi at home. Using it in the car? May want a wireless access plan... if you plan to use it in the car to stream movies. Only want to play games on it in the car? Those aren't all online games--you mostly download them onto your device (when you DO have internet access) and play the app whenever, no internet needed once the app has been downloaded.



answers from Tampa on

I hope your child has access to a computer. My daughter is in 2nd grade and uses the computer frequently at school for tests and extra learning in her AGP class. It’s a disservice to keep children away from technology. I volunteer in the classroom and I feel badly for the kids who don’t know how to navigate a web site.

The life of books and pen and paper like we grew up with is going by the way-side. You may not like that computers were invented, but they were, and they’re our new reality. There are terrific web sites for children –,, National Geographic for kids. They have their own unique access and cannot access the web sites that aren’t set up for them.

If you want something portable for learning, I highly recommend the iPad. Thousands of learning and educational games, mostly free or a couple of dollars.


answers from Washington DC on

I think yes, he is too old. My 4 year old got a Kindle Fire for Chirstmas last year and he can work my laptop and my iPhone better than I can.

I respect your ways of raising your son, but I do encourage you to introduce him to more technology or he will be lacking behind the other kids in school. It's kind of the way society moves now.

BTW, the Kindle Fire has TONS of games for kids. Literally tons.



answers from Jacksonville on

No, he's not. My son is 6 and got his leapster 2 years ago and he plays the snot out of that thing on long road trips or when we go to things like Dr apts where we have to sit and wait. The games are educational and the only one I feel was kinda violent is the X Men. They have just released the new Leapster GS but it still takes the same games, and also have a new version of their Ipad too. With the leapster, you can buy a battery charging pack if you find that you are going through AA batteries too fast. You can also hook it up to your computer and check his progress in areas like Reading, Math and spelling. There area also products made by Vtech and Mobigo that are similar but I don't know how they work.

I totally agree he isn't ready for an Ipad or a Kindle or even a Nintendo DS yet. If you do get him the leapster, just set guidelines for play so that way he isn't sitting there playing non stop. To me, electronics are ok as long as they are used within reason and responsibly (and Ipad at the Jume zone isn't responsible! IMO) and other things are still going on like playing outside and reading a book.

Good luck



answers from Spokane on

my 5 year old plays on my samsung galaxy tablet. i have about 50 (free) games she can choose from. math, reading etc. and fun games. i dont pay a monthly fee. it connects wirelessly to our internet. i down load the games so she can entertain herself when we are out and about and shes bored. a kindle fire or a nook color would be appropriate for him if you choose to get him something of that sort.

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