What Did My Child Do With My PDA?

LeapFrog Helps Parents Keep Their Valuable Devices Out of Kids’ Hands

From toy tea sets to mini doctor kits, kids have always loved playing grown-up. Now, today’s busy parent(1) must-have device, the PDA, has caught the attention of children–with often humorous results. LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. is helping parents “Save Your PDA” with the availability of its new Text & Learn toy–a just-for-kids learning PDA for children ages three and older.

“There are endless stories of children doing crazy things with their parents’ PDAs, including accidentally sending emails to bosses or dropping them in the toilet,” said Nancy MacIntyre, executive vice president, product, innovation and marketing for LeapFrog. “But the reality is that because these devices have become such an important part of our personal and work lives, it is only natural that kids want to try them out. Text & Learn lets kids enjoy pretending to be ‘busy grown-ups,’ while sparing their parents’ PDAs.”

LeapFrog recently commissioned a “Save Your PDA” survey, conducted by Harris Interactive(R), which found that when kids have access to their parents’ PDAs, shenanigans often follow. Kids apparently are dropping their parents’ PDAs into the toilet (7%) and garbage (9%). They are also changing settings (32%), smearing food on the keypad or screen (23%) or placing calls (51%) to folks parents may not be too thrilled to talk to unexpectedly–such as mothers-in-law, bosses or people overseas. For a little extra excitement, 16 per cent of these unwanted calls were to 911. A lucky 12% of parents, though, found out about new features on their PDA, thanks to their children’s “exploration.”

So why not just make the PDA off limits? Keeping a PDA away from a child can prove difficult, it turns out, provoking tears in 52% of the denied children. Of parents who give in to their child’s request, nearly half (45%) hand over their PDA to keep kids amused during travel, and one in four (26%) shared their PDA while waiting at a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Only about one in seven parents (15%) say their child has never had access to their PDA.

In spite of all these difficulties, 93 per cent of parents do believe that technological devices such as PDAs, cell phones and computers can not only help keep kids occupied and content, but also help them learn. With this in mind, LeapFrog introduces Text & Learn, which offers letter matching, shape identification and QWERTY keyboard navigation games. Preschoolers can learn and play while they exchange messages with onboard puppy pal Scout, check Scout’s calendar and explore in a pretend browser mode.

Parents can share their own “PDA Horror Stories” by visiting http://www.leapfrog.com/text&learn, commiserate with other moms and dads who have known their own tech-meets-kids woes, participate in sweepstakes and get coupons for Text & Learn and the rest of the Scout-themed line of products.

Four New Learning Toys for On-the-go Fun

LeapFrog’s Text & Learn is just one of four newly available learning toys designed to offer children from six months to three years old personalized play, on-the-go learning fun and help building preschool readiness skills. The new line features the playful LeapFrog character Scout the puppy, and each toy is on the LeapFrog Learning Path, a free online resource that gives parents insights into what skills their child explores during play.

The green My Pal Scout and purple My Pal Violet, for children six months and older, are plush puppy friends that, via a USB connection, parents can personalize with their child’s name and favorite things (e.g. color, food). My Pal Scout and My Pal Violet introduce learning skills such as first words, daily routines and counting.

Scout also plays backyard guide to curious two-year-olds learning letter names and sounds in LeapFrog’s AlphaPet Explorer. Toddlers will have fun exploring the phonics games and hearing fun songs, as they build preschool skills such as letter recognition and fine motor coordination.

Scout is ready to jump in and offer three-year-olds “paws-on” early writing assistance with the new Scribble & Write. A handheld tablet that’s just the right size for anywhere play, Scribble & Write gives easy step-by-step guidance as children trace right over lit-up figures on the LED screen, practice drawing simple shapes and pictures, then graduate to writing upper- and lowercase letters. Fun learning games help reinforce letter recognition and pencil control skills.

Pricing and Availability

My Pal Scout (MSRP $19.99), Text & Learn (MSPR $21.99), AlphaPet Explorer (MSRP $19.99) and Scribble & Write (MSRP $21.99) are available today, exclusively at Toys “R” Us and www.toysrus.com. These products, as well as My Pal Violet (MSRP $19.99), will be available at www.leapfrog.com and all major retailers in July 2009.

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