We’ve recently seen the five best toys of all time, so how about a trip down the other direction? From sticks and cardboard boxes to a touchscreen display and Android. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) released its 2011 list of the worst toys for children and bringing home the not-so-coveted TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) award was a tablet PC, the VINCI Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet. This $479 device beat out the likes of the I Am T-Pain Mic (product link here although, like the product, it is possibly NSFW), capturing 43 percent of the votes. Here’s CCFC’s explanation for why the VINCI was able to top a microphone that promotes alcohol, drugs, and strippers to 7-year-olds:
The Vinci tablet looks so harmless, but it will suck hours of time that babies need to spend interacting with the world when their brains are the most vulnerable and in need of real interaction… What children need are toys that encourage them to use their imagination, instead of toys that do and say everything for them… Using bogus “educational claims,” this company preys on vulnerable parents of infants (many first-timers) who just want to do the best for their child. A caregiver can provide everything this “learning tool” offers — games, songs, lullabies, stories — for far less than the almost $500 price tag.
While I’ve come to recognize the value of tablets for older kids (besides being a source of amusement and inexpensive video gaming that’s begun to push Nintendo out of our household, iPads have proven their value as educational aids with my 9-year-olds), I’m not convinced of their appropriateness for an infant or toddler. The other thing I can’t wrap my head around is the price. Sure, VINCI features tempered glass and soft handles and it looks kind of cool, but why bother going down this path? Drop a few bucks on a decent case (and, yes, you can pick up inexpensive third party versions that are just as grippy or protective), hit the Apple Store for a refurb original iPad and you can have your pick of thousands of educational apps, more on-board storage, WiFi (which the VINCI lacks), and longer battery life for less than you’d pay for the VINCI. As an added bonus, with the iPad’s 10-inch display, you can load it up with digital comic books to read when your toddler gets tired of it, something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone using a 7-inch display.