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Network World - My obsession with technology and gadgets came at a relatively early age - I got the Merlin, a handheld toy with red lights, cool sounds and the ability to play a mean game of tic-tac-toe.
These days, it's real easy to turn your kids into techies - especially with easy-to-use gadgets like tablets and smartphones. For the first time in our Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide, we've created a "Kid Stuff" category for kid-friendly technology gift ideas.
Note: Products are listed in no particular order or preference. Prices are also rounded-up estimates from either the product's website or Amazon.com. Better deals may be offered online during the holiday season.
With a generation of children now raised with smartphones, tablets and computers and all those apps, getting them to sit down and play a board game might generate cries of "BORING!" Hasbro has recognized this and taken some of its more popular games and added an iPad app component to them, creating "Zapped edition" versions.
While there is still a game board and pieces to move around the board, in the case of The Game of Life version, the spinner has been replaced by an iPad app. Players spin the virtual spinner in order to move their pieces around the board.
Fortunately, there's more than just that with the app - players can customize their "peg" with different hairstyles, outfits. When they get a job, they get to choose from a bunch of different careers, and then when they get married they can choose from three types of ceremonies. Also, special spaces on the board provide additional fun from the app - for example, landing on a payday spot launches a mini-game in which players try to spot their bonus under a cup (like the old-school shell game), or play a game of mini-Concentration/Memory to match icons based on their career. At other points during the game, players can watch short video clips courtesy of "America's Funniest Videos" - during one game I played with my kids, they kept repeating one particular clip because they loved watching it so much.
The app component did add some enjoyment to the game, especially for my younger children - if you're not playing a full game you can still access the mini-games to keep kids entertained for a bit. Other Zapped versions (including Monopoly, Battleship and SpellShot) are available as well.
- Keith Shaw
The VINCI Tab is an Android-based tablet designed for children aged 18 months to about 6 years. The 7-inch tablet includes a rubber outer frame that allows young hands to grip with ease, and units are available with or without Wi-Fi Internet access.
The tablet includes several early learning applications, ranging from Level 1 (for toddlers) up to Level 3 (pre-schoolers). The apps include things like storybook reading, to small mini-games (find things in a picture). There's also a gallery of videos to watch with a ton of kids songs (trust me, you'll be sick of "Wheels on the Bus" in no time), as well as a basic camera that lets kids take their own photos or videos.