This post is sponsored by VTech. All opinions are genuine.
When VTech asked me to try out their InnoTab Max, I wasn’t sure I could give it a fair review, since my kids have been using an adult tablet for a few years now. Sometimes I really wish we had introduced Mazzy and Harlow to a kid’s tablet at the beginning, but I’m afraid they’ve already been spoiled by access to adult technology.
With that in mind, I asked Dr. B (my sister and school psychologist) if she wanted to test out the InnoTab Max on her two-year-old Jack. Jack hasn’t had much screen time as of yet, but my sister has been considering it since she often needs something to occupy him while she takes care of her new baby.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dr. B, who talks about Jack’s experience with InnoTab Max and her slow introduction to screen time.
As a psychologist who works with kids, I’ve seen the problems associated with too much screen time and how difficult it is for parents to set boundaries. When it comes to Jack’s screen time, I tried to follow guidelines that recommend no exposure prior to age two, but it’s hard when you are the only one in your family who feels strongly about this issue.
My husband and every member of our extended family has shown Jack videos on their smart phones, which of course he loves and requests over and over again each time they visit.
When my sister asked whether I’d be interested in trying the VTech InnoTab Max, I admit I was a bit reluctant at first, especially since Jack is so young, but I have seen how powerful apps can be both as educational tools and as a sanity saver when I need Jack to occupy himself or do something he doesn’t want to do.
Before I said “yes”, I did some research and liked that InnoTab Max is specifically designed for parents who want their kids to use technology to learn and only has apps with educational content. It still has the same look and feel as an iPad, but Jack can’t access inappropriate videos or content.
When I introduced Jack to the InnoTab Max, I told him it was my computer, which I figured would help me have more control over his usage. I was also pleased to discover it has built-in parent controls to limit your child’s time on the device as well as the time of day when the tablet can be used.
The set-up was very easy and it came with a credit to use at the Learning Lodge, which is an online library of expert-supported curricula with more than 650 age-appropriate apps including a hand-picked selection of educational Android apps. The apps are categorized by educational content areas and age so it was easy to make our selections.
We downloaded three e-books (If You Can, Catch the Puppet Man, Eco-Explorers In Africa, and The Magic Toy Box) and two games (Toca Pet Doctor and Lets Jam) for kids ages 2 or 3 and up. We also purchased a Wiggles album and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartridge of 3 games since Jack loves watching these shows on YouTube.
The first time I let Jack play with the tablet was before lunchtime, which peaked his interest enough that he was willing to sit down to eat without his usual delay tactics. I started with the e-books and since I usually read to Jack and nurse my daughter while feeding him lunch, I was happy that Jack was able to operate the e-books independently.
Jack particularly liked the interactive touch screen feature that names the objects in the pictures of the story when you touch them. Also, when the stories are read and pictures are touched, the corresponding text is highlighted, which is great for early literacy.
Next we tried the drawing pad. Jack really liked using the stamps and digital pen and saving his artwork in a digital folder. The tablet also has a camera, which can take photos and video. The picture quality isn’t great but Jack enjoyed making his own videos of himself singing and then watching them back. You can also download photos and videos from your own devices to the tablet and it has a feature that lets you lock content so that it can’t be deleted accidentally. Jack loves watching videos of himself and I often let him look at videos we’ve taken on my phone so it’s nice that he is able to do this on his own device now.
The last feature I showed Jack was the games. Although I knew he would love the games, my biggest fear was that he would become hyper focused while playing and start to request to play all the time– and with a new baby in the house, I do not need an additional source of meltdowns. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed watching Jack play and felt like he was really learning, problem-solving, and improving his visual motor coordination while playing.
The games are at a slower pace than I expected since they are created specifically for young children and have great educational features as well. The first game we tried was Toca Pet Doctor, which is a really cute game where you help and feed sick animals and nurse them back to health. His ability to click and drag is improving each time he plays and it’s great to see how proud he is when he heals the animals all by himself. Also, hearing him request to “help the sick animals” when he wants to play is absolutely adorable.
Let’s Jam is an app that enables you to play and record your own music using a variety of different instruments. Jack is quite the musician at home and loves the option to record his own original songs. The best part was Jack kept getting up to dance when he played back his music.
We have not showed him the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse games yet because I want to save them for the holidays when we need to take an hour and a half car ride in traffic. I imagine this will be a game changer since we usually have to schedule long trips during naptime to ensure we can have a relaxing trip.
The InnoTab Max also has an app called VTech Kid Connect™ where you can exchange text and voice messages, photos, drawings and fun stickers with your smart phone. They just added a family group chat and family bulletin as well, which I imagine the grandparents are going to LOVE.
We have had the VTech InnoTab Max for about three weeks and I’m very pleased that Jack still views it as a special treat. I must say, it works wonders as a bargaining tool. This was the first time Jack has ever tried computer games and the educational value definitely makes me feel less guilty about Jack’s screen time.
It also came at the perfect time since we just had our daughter, Neve, and I often need to distract Jack while I take care of his baby sister.
You can learn more about the VTech InnoTab here.
UPDATE: For information regarding the recent VTech data breach, please visit http://www.vtechkids.
This post was sponsored by VTech, but all thoughts and opinions are genuine.