Mom guilt. It lives within many of us hiding insidiously around the house – in the Xbox, highly processed snacks, and mountainous laundry piles. Regardless, from time-to-time we all need a break and the best way to get a break is to set your child up with ways to self-entertain. However, the wrong entertainment can lead to more guilt. You can live both guilt free and in peace by investing in these 5 gadgets that will make your child smarter. From free to wallet breaking, these 5 gadgets will turn your child into a little Einstein.
$0-$3.00 Apps and Websites
The debates about screen time rage on, but most experts agree there is a healthy middle ground. And I can personally attest to the power of the iPad, which has taught my son how to count to 10 in Spanish and how to read multiple site words. If you are looking for a free way to make your child smarter, free apps are the way to go. The best app will depend upon your child’s age and skill level. One app that will speak to many age levels is DNA Play. For $2.99, kids can create their own “creatures” using the basic concepts of DNA. And trust me, the creations are adorable and humerous. Better yet? There is a DNA Play app for iOS, Android, and Kindle.
If you have an older child, they will get a kick out of our second pick, Presidents vs. Aliens Lite (free). Basically your child will learn about our former leaders, while also blasting aliens hovering around our national monuments. Finally, the younger crowd will enjoy a little play time on brainpopjr.com. This educational website will let them explore video topics ranging from mathematics to geography. The Movie of the Week feature is free, but access to the full website requires a subscription.
$35.00 Virtual Explorers
Not to be outdone by Mattel, Uncle Milton is launching an amazing line of toys (pictured above) that blends education with technology. Their new line of toys, based around viewfinder style glasses, adds a 360° virtual reality element. And to add an extra element of cool, your kid will be one of the first to own one of these new gadgets, which launch later this year. The sets will launch in three versions including VR versions of their popular Ant Farm Antopia Adventure ($34.99), Dino X Team Jurassic Safari ($34.99), and the In My Room Space Expedition ($49.99). Each toy comes with the Virtual Explorer goggles, activity guide, and a free downloadable augmented reality app.
$98.36 littleBits Electronics cloudBit Starter Kit
If you want to turn your little one into a gadget creator, this Starker Kit by littleBits is for you. The Starter Kit is designed to allow your child to create their own internet-connected device that they can then connect through the popular IFTTT engine. IFTTT is the superglue that holds many internet connected devices together through what they call “recipes”. Your little bit can use littleBits to create rules like, “if the sunrises, feed my fish” or “if someone rings the doorbell, text mom’s phone”. While you can create many useful and creative things, keep in mind that this is a toy best suited for older children.
$179.99 Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is a voice intelligent device that can quickly become your child’s new go-to mother. And by that I mean that she can wake your child up in the morning, play him a lullaby at night, turn his lights out, tell him what the weather is like so he can pick out an appropriate outfit, and even answer a bajillion questions using Wikipedia. While you may not want to be replaced, Alexa can actually encourage independence and self-reliance by encouraging your child to seek their own solution to everyday challenges. And if you aren’t into spending $179.99 on such a device, they’ve recently launched an $89.99 version called Echo Dot, which can do all the same tricks, but offers an inferior speaker.
$549.00 Aido Robot
If you want a device that can do more than talkback, Aido, a personal robot, is your best bet. Aido is like a dog without the mess, a brother or sister without the nagging, and Amazon Echo with legs. Aido can do many of the same things that Amazon Echo can do, but it includes a base that allows it to move about your house. It also has lots of unique tricks like the ability to turn into a multimedia projector, help your kids with their homework, or even give them tips that might turn them into the next MasterChef Junior.
As technology continues to involve, entertaining children can become more challenging. While gadgets are great, don’t forget to unplug them from time-to-time lest we become a dystopian cliché.