I chose to review the Leapfrog ® Leappad (http://www.leapfrog.com/en-ca/store/p/leappad-platinum/_/A-prod31565). I picked this product because I found it interesting that a child’s learning toy resembled that of an adult tablet device. This product works very similar to a normal tablet in that you can download apps and a variety of eBooks. The major difference between the Leappad and a tablet is that the Leappad is marketed toward children between the ages of 3-9. Strangely enough the website that advertises the product doesn’t explain much about the educational benefits are but instead focuses on the graphics and processor. When I looked at an overview of the toy under the product tab of the same website, it explained that theses tablets were designed to help prepare children for the 21st Century while fueling thinking and imagination. This product is very relevant to today because so much of our time is spent using some form of technology.
According to Bornstien, “By 6 months, almost all the physiological immaturities that might restrict attention, perception, and information processing have disappeared […]”(p.185) This means that at age 3, children have longer attention spans to stimulus and may actually benefit from such interactive devices. They will also be able to retain the information they receive and put more critical thought into the educational apps.
I found an article called Preschool Children’s Learning with Technology at Home. The article looked at the affect of technologically based toys on children’s learning at home. Among the toys looked at in their research was the Leappad. The article also focused on children who were 3 years old which fits perfectly into the target age range for this toy. The study followed 14 families over an 18 month period through an ecocultural approach, where they looked at not only the children but also the family dynamic and how it contributed to the use of electronic toys in the household. The study found that technology based learning toys actually have a positive impact on children. The researchers understood that a main concern when it comes to electronics is an over exposure but because they also took into account family practices and routines (which had a great affect on the amount of exposure time) they were able to go below those surface issues. They saw how these toys could impact more than just a child’s operational skill but also help the child understand the major role technology plays in today’s society.
The Leappad and similar tablet products claimed to prepare children for the 21st Century, as I stated early and based on the research done in the Preschool Children’s Learning with Technology at Home article that seems to hold true. I can see the potential benefits of toys like these because kids seem to benefit from interactive learning material. The only downfall I would see with this product is still that possibility of over exposure. The study talked about how family dynamics had an affect on the amount of time a child spent playing with these toys. To me this also means that children who aren’t raised in a household where play time is monitored may actually be spending too much time on these toys.
In conclusion, I believe that the Leappad, used in moderation, can have a positive impact on a child’s learning. With society moving further and further into a world run by technology it’s important for young children to have a good understanding of technology and how it shapes their world.
Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in infancy: a contemporary introduction. New York: Psychology Press.
Plowman, L., Stevenson, O., Stephen, C., & Mcpake, J. (2012). Preschool children’s learning with technology at home. Computers & Education,59(1), 30-37. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.11.014