Top 5 kid-friendly tech gadgets

Flashing lights and interactive screens have a way of drawing kids in; harness that power by...

Flashing lights and interactive screens have a way of drawing kids in; harness that power by supplementing books and other forms of learning with a gadget like the VINCI five-inch tablet. (SUPPLIED)

Natalia Manzocco, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:35 PM ET

Tech gifts for the grade-school set are getting tougher to pin down with each passing year. After all, plenty of moms and dads have turned over their smartphones and computers in an effort to keep kids occupied, and countless wee ones pine after their older siblings' grown-up gaming consoles.

These gifts may not end up being the young recipient's first brush with technology, but a simplified spec sheet, child-oriented features and a focus on learning can make for a kid-friendly gadget that's truly all their own.

VINCI five-inch tablet

Flashing lights and interactive screens have a way of drawing kids in; harness that power by supplementing books and other forms of learning with a gadget like the VINCI five-inch tablet. It's a departure from other tablets for tots — this one's geared at kids as young as 18 months, with a "scaffolding" teaching method devised by developmental psychologists that's aimed at growing with your child's abilities.

The tablet covers 43 learning subjects in a number of developmental areas, including thinking and social skills, language, math, logic and science. Kids can network with friends and family to play games through other VINCI tablets, and a password-protected parent mode delivers features found on a regular Android tablet, so there's something there for mom and dad as well. It's $146.99 at Best Buy.

MyPhones headphones

The occasional use of a pair of headphones can go a long way to preserving a parent's sanity. Griffin teamed up with Crayola to create MyPhones headphones, which limit volume to a level safe for small ears. They come in earbud or headband styles in a variety of crayon-box colours (purple pizazz, cotton candy, blueberry and Caribbean green).

True to Crayola form, there are markers and stickers included so kids can customize their own set. The over-ear headphones can be found for $19.99 at amazon.ca.

Leapster GSExplorer

Taking a page out of the handheld gaming playbook, the Leapster GSExplorer is an educational gaming system aimed at kids 4 to 9. The system's been overhauled from the previous Explorer, now boasting a slimmer size (perfect for smaller hands) and a 3.5-inch screen.

The system's motion-based play capabilities keep math, science and reading exciting, and over 300 apps and games are available to keep kids engaged. Creative kids will leap right for the built-in 2MP still and video camera. It's $79.99 at Toys 'R Us.

iHome's iHM61 mini speaker

Older kids attached to their smartphones and mp3 players will get a kick out of iHome's iHM61 colour-changing mini speaker. A built-in LED flashes blue, green, amber and red, amping up the listening experience. (You can also set it to single-colour mode.)

The rechargeable speaker works with any gadget that has a headphone jack, and fits in the palm of your hand for portability (or for stocking-stuffing). Light up their lives for $24.99 at Toys 'R Us.


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