Toy Review: Leapfrog Didj

Thanks to the generosity of LeapFrog, the kid has been test driving a Didj for the past few months. Longtime readers may recall that I don't buy into edu-tainment toys. Baby Einstein is one of the greatest scams of recent memory. It feeds that myth that reading to your pregnany belly will make your child smarter.

I also don't like to review products like this until I think the kid has had enough time to play with it and I can really see what she feels about it. Kids like anything shiny, so I feel time-testing is essential.

All that to say that after all this time, the kid really does like the Didj and I recommend it.

What do I like about it? The kid has played Star Wars & Nancy Drew the most.
  • Both games include the learning as a part of the gaming. Want to get Anakin to the next level? Solve this math problem. Want to help Nancy solve a mystery? Spell a word.
  • The Didj has a feel of a portable video game console so I think most kids will like them.
  • It really is customizable, especially Nancy. You can put in a spelling word list before your child plays it. Use it to test them or focus on words they already know, but need more drilling on.
  • It can be recharged and doesn't have to rely on batteries. We still need to get the AC adaptor, but it's out there in the universe.
What didn't I like about the Didj?
  • Ironically the games & the skills match up to specific genders. Most companies (ahem pottery barn kids!) think that only boys like Star Wars and Leapfrog has it as a math game. Very stereotypical boy. Nancy Drew, a girl hero who will most likely attract girl players, has the girls focus on reading & spelling. There is a lot of reading in Nancy! Again, very stereotypically girl. If Leapfrog wants to be innovative, have Nancy do geometry and Anakin spend some time in the Jedi Library.
  • Nancy Drew moves sooooo slow. No action at all. It keeps the kid from really playing for a long time.

But the positive points do win out. I really thought that I'd want to keep the kid from getting into video games longer than now, but I'm pretty comfortable with the Didj. She plays with it, but it's too obsessive about it. She's still 5 and gets distracted by other shiny things like a new book, notebook or stickers.

If you're not ready for your child to have any video games, I won't push you. But if s/he keeps bugging you for one and you feel like you might relent, try the Didj. Yeah, it's like getting healthy cereal instead of sugary stuff, but maybe your child won't notice too soon.