Part of LeapFrog’s new product line this year includes the Text & Learn that references the design of the adult BlackBerry. While there seems to be a lot of uproar about this latest grown-up device scaled down for the sandbox crowd, there’s really nothing very new about the concept. When fax machines were new (remember that?), Tyco had a really neat version for kids. The typical toy phone has gone through many variation that track the design and functions of the real thing. So it didn’t really seem that unusual to me that there would be a BlackBerry styled toy–given the adult dependence on their devices. In terms of play value, preschoolers love taking on grown up roles with literal props. Pretend kits for playing office, restaurant, firefighter, etc. are generally a huge hit with this age group. It’s developmentally right on target in terms of expanding their own sense of themselves in a larger community. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean they need this particular electronic prop or any other. The proof will be in the game play – which is really hard to judge until we see a finished product and try it out with kids. There is another problem that every parent runs into at some point…even toddlers know the difference between your keys and some fake set of toy keys. Most kids will not accept the substitution! On the other hand, if this is a fun, easy to take along hand held device that has age appropriate content–it might be very appealing.
Pre-Toy Fair Buzz: Does your three year old need a BlackBerry?