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Kids Learning Tablet: Best Options in the Market

kids learning tablet

As parents, we want our children to grow up as educated as possible. Fortunately, kids' learning tablet offerings are pretty amazing. You'll find them loaded with educational apps, videos, games, and more.

But which tablet is best for your child? There are some factors you should consider when choosing the best kids' learning tablet.

The first thing you need to consider is how old your kids are. Some tablets are intended for younger children. Companies build other tablets with older kids in mind. For instance, Leapfrog produces tablets that are generally suited to kids between the ages of three and six. If you hand one of those devices to a child any older than that, he or she is going to look at you like you're crazy. You're going to want to buy a more "grown-up" tablet for older kids. For teens, you'll probably just want to get something like you'd get for yourself -- or buy yourself a new one and give them your hand-me-down.

The second thing you should think about is what apps, games, and videos are available. You'll also want to consider the parental control features. After all, you wouldn't want your kids to access something they're not supposed to.

Another important factor is the battery life. You'll want something that will stay alive as long as your kids need it to. Storage is also important. Since you'll probably restrict internet access, you'll want your child's tablet to hold a variety of games and videos. For this reason, you'll probably want something with a microSD card slot. Otherwise, you'll find yourself furiously deleting content regularly to make room for something new.

Best Learning Tablets for Kids

You'll find it difficult at times as you attempt to find a good kids' learning tablet. To help you get started, here are some of the best available.

LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra/Ultra XDI Kids' Learning Tablet, Green (styles...
  • Ultimate adventures await with LeapPad Ultra XDi's huge 7" hi-res screen, kid-safe web and kid-tough design.
  • Huge, vivid screen delivers rich, dynamic graphics that immerse kids into the learning experience and bring the fun to...
  • Access the most engaging learning library for kids tablets, with 1,000+ educator-approved games, apps, eBooks, videos,...

The Leapfrog LeapPad Ultra XDi is a great tablet that will survive the bumps and bruises you can expect kids to give it. You'll notice that this is a bit pricey for a kids' learning tablet even when compared to other Leapfrog devices. But it has a lot to offer your kids.

The LeapPad Ultra XDi features a large seven-inch screen. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will last for more than six hours of play and learning. Your kids can snap photos on the front and rear two-megapixel cameras and add fun effects.

The Ultra XDi is Wi-Fi capable, but you can't download third-party apps on it. This device limits you to Leapfrog's software. However, that's not such a bad thing. The browser allows users to access a library of more than 1,000 educator-approved apps, games, eBooks, videos, and more.

Also, the tablet includes 11 apps, including Photo Fun Ultra, Art Studio Ultra, Pet Pad Party, Pet Chat, and other fun programs your kids will love. This kids' learning tablet allows your children to enjoy MP3s. So no matter what kind of music they like, your kids will have no trouble entertaining themselves.

The memory presents a major drawback. While eight gigabytes is large for a kids' learning tablet, you may find the XDi to be a bit limited.

Overall, you'll find the XDi to be a spectacular kids' learning tablet for the price. But if you want something with a lot of memory, you'll need to look elsewhere.

nabi 2S Tablet
  • Display: 7-inch Multi-Touch Capacitive, Touch Screen, 1280 x 800 Pixel Resolution
  • Storage: 16GB, Expandable via MicroSD (Up to 32GB) and 1GB RAM
  • Camera: 2MP Front Facing Camera, 720p Video

The Fuhu Nabi 2 is an impressive kids' learning tablet designed to take some abuse. The screen is surrounded by a one-inch black bezel. Its chassis has a raised red stopper at each corner that holds a protective bumper in place.

The Nabi 2 has a grid of raised squares on the back that can be used to customize the tablet's appearance. For instance, parents can buy a set that includes a rubber case to add additional protection and letters kids can put over the squares to personalize their tablet with their name. They can also slap on pictures of their favorite desserts.

The Nabi's seven-inch 1024 x 600 display provides kids with beautiful images whether they are watching their favorite movie or playing a game. However, the screen is not as bright as it could be. A good thing, in the back seat of your car on the highway at night, not so great outside or in bright light.

The Nabi App Zone offers more than 500 kid-friendly apps. While you have access to "adult" apps as well, there's some bad news. You can only use Amazon's app store, which lacks every Microsoft app, every Google app (including an official YouTube), and more. If that doesn't dissuade you, you'll be happy to know that the Nabi 2 comes with more than 100 pre-loaded apps.

Like the LeapPad Ultra XDi, the Nabi 2's camera is very limited. Not only does it lack a rear-facing camera, but the front-facing camera is only two megapixels. Fortunately, the 1.3 gigahertz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM ensure that the speed makes up for this weakness.

The Nabi 2's battery is also impressive. This device lasts over eight hours between charges. Your kids won't have a problem staying busy and learning -- and you won't have to worry about them destroying an expensive device.

Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet, 10.1" 1080p Full HD Display, 32 GB,...
  • Up to $99 in savings on Fire HD 10 tablet, 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, and a Kid-Proof Case, versus items...
  • Not a toy, a full-featured Fire HD 10 tablet with a brilliant 10.1" 1080p Full HD display (1920 x 1200), 32 GB internal...
  • The included 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited gives your kids access to over 20,000 popular apps and games, videos, books,...

The Amazon Fire HD is a favorite among parents who are looking for a good tablet for their kids. What's great about this tablet is that it is suitable for children of all ages. Your kids will love its beautiful 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 display. You'll love that it functions as a grown-up device.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is packing an impressive 2 gigabytes of ram and a 1.8 gigahertz quad-core processor. There's some serious power "under the hood." This device comes with 32 or 64 gigabytes of memory by default, but the microSD card slot allows you to expand up to 256 gigs of memory. This will hold whatever content you need it to. It also has some of the best battery life you will find in kids' learning tablets.

The Kids Edition comes with a durable case that will help it withstand whatever your young ones throw at it. On top of that, Amazon's two-year worry-free guarantee will allow you to replace it if your kids break their tablet.

It includes a year of Freetime Unlimited, which gives your children access to more than 15,000 popular apps, games, and educational content. As with some other kids' learning tablets, you may find your app choices to be limited. You can download apps from Amazon's store. But you'll find a severe lack of content from Microsoft, Google, and other major developers. Fortunately, you can "hack" the device to give yourself access to the Google Play Store to expand your options.

As a parent, you'll love the flexible parental controls. You can not only limit content but "lock" it until your kids have met their educational goals.

Dragon Touch Y88X Plus 7 inch Kids Tablet, Kidoz Pre-Installed Disney...
  • Free Disney Book included: There are 20 Disney story books and 4 audio books, such as Zootopia, frozen, beauty and the...
  • Endless entertainment kidoz playground preinstalled: kidoz enables kids access to millions of videos clips paintings and...
  • Premium Parent control: the preinstalled premium version of kidoz offers much more control for parents Kids could only...

Looking for a budget alternative? The Dragon Touch Y88X Plus gives your kids an impressive learning experience without draining your wallet of its contents. The Y88X Plus has a seven inch screen and comes pre-loaded with 20 Disney storybooks and four audio books.

The Y88X Plus comes with a case that will help it withstand the bumps and scrapes that your kids will likely put it through. It also comes with an adjustable stand, which is convenient for watching videos and reading. It has a beautiful 1024 x 600 HD display, eight gigabytes of storage (expandable up to 32 gigabytes thanks to the MicroSD card slot), a 1.3 gigahertz processor, and one gigabyte of ram. In other words, it offers a lot of performance for the price. 

Unlike the Nabi 2, the Y88X Plus offers you a quality selection of apps via the Google Play store. The Kidoz Playground gives children access to millions of educational games, video clips, and more. Parents can rest assured that their kids won't access anything they're not supposed to thanks to this kids' learning tablet's robust parental controls.

This tablet may not be the best of the best, but it's a spectacular option if you don't have the money for something more advanced.

Kurio Xtreme Tablet, Blue
  • Stunningly Redesigned, Enhanced and Full-Featured Android 4.4 Tablet
  • Best in Class Parental Controls: Features 8 customizable profiles with separate settings for each child, comprehensive...
  • Safe Web Surfing: Integrates our 'Kurio Genius' advanced web filtering system with auto-updates covering more than 500...

The Kurio Tab Advance is another budget kids' learning tablet you may want to consider if you can't afford the pricier options. This tablet features a 1.3 gigahertz quad-core processor and one gigabyte of RAM. It will get the job done. But it's not even close to the fastest device on the market.

The Kurio Tab Advance has a seven-inch, 1024x600 display. It's hardly impressive, but for the price, it's not bad. This device has more storage by default than some options -- 16 gigabytes. But it's expandable by an additional 32 gigs via the microSD slot.

This tablet comes with a rubber protective case to help it handle bumps and bruises. As with many other kids' learning tablets, the rear camera is an unimpressive two megapixels. The front-facing camera is an even worse 0.3 megapixels.

If you're aware of this device's faults, you'll be happy that your kids have something on which to play simple games and to watch videos. But as you are probably aware, you can find much better options on the market.

VTech InnoTab Max Kids Tablet, Blue (Discontinued by manufacturer)
  • Children's tablet combines the best of both learning worlds; features an ever-expanding library of over 650...
  • Kids tablet has an adaptable design with a tough, kid-friendly cover that can be removed for a more grown-up feel;...
  • InnoTab Max kids tablets have 7" multi-touch screens with high-resolution display that is HDMI ready; web surf with...

The VTech InnoTab Max is a budget tablet with a unique design. The protective case doesn't just look nice -- it has a handle for easy carrying that doubles as a stand.

As with other budget kids' learning tablets, the InnoTab Max doesn't sport the best specifications. The seven-inch, 1024 x 600 screen gives your kids the ability to watch videos at a decent quality. It comes loaded with 18 kid-friendly apps, including Wonder Cam Max, Movie Maker, and Magic Beanstalk.

The Learning Lodge gives your kids access to a massive library of age-appropriate content they'll love. It also features kid-safe web browsing. The KidConnect app gives families the ability to chat with one another -- if they own multiple devices. If you own earlier versions of the InnoTab that use cartridges, you'll be glad to know that the InnoTab Max is backward-compatible and will let your kids use them. This is great if you have older children who have outgrown their versions but want to give the young ones the ability to play the older games.

The most frustrating thing about the InnoTab Max is its slow load time when booting a new program or switching between apps.

Which Is the Best Kids' Learning Tablet?

The bottom line is that you don't have many options when shopping for a kids' learning tablet. You'll notice that the InnoTab Max and some other cheaper models like the Kurio Tab Advance are outdated right out of the box. This presents an issue if you care about performance and quality.

If you truly want a good tablet for your kids, you'll need to spend a little bit of money. The LeapPad Ultra XDi has a lot to offer. But the best option for your kids is easily the Amazon Fire HD 10. Not only will it grow with them because it is, at its core, a true "adult" tablet, but it presents your kids with a lot of spectacular options the other tablets lack.

How We Made Our Choice

We made our decision by examining device specifications. We also carefully examined user reviews and looked at what each device made available to your kids. After considering performance and other factors, we determined that the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition offers the most to your kids for the money.

Anki Cozmo Bot Detailed Product Review

Cozmo Bot

The first time I heard of the Anki Cozmo bot, my inner child got immensely excited. As a kid, my most prized toy was a battery-operated robot that had flashing lights and laser sounds. Most of the electronic robot toys from my youth were a lot like that.

Back then, robots that moved, talked, and learned stuff on their own were limited to science fiction movies. Not anymore. Kids these days have access to robots that they can program, that learn their names, and that interact with them.

Meet the Anki Cozmo Bot

kids playing with a cozmo bot

image via: Amazon

What makes the Anki Cozmo Bot interesting is that it has the smarts and personality to become your best friend. It learns and evolves over time. What's more, the Anki Cozmo is fun to play with.

You or your kids will probably spend hours and hours interacting with it, making it do tricks, and programming things for it to do. Plus, it also teaches you how to code.

Design

One look at the Anki Cozmo robot and it instantly reminds you of the robot in the movie "WALL-E." Two treads roll it along, and the body is hard plastic. The face of the Cozmo bot has a cube shape. You'll notice some lights on the chassis. The top lights change colors, giving you an idea of what the robot is doing. The Anki Cozmo also uses a camera located on its face to "see," while its arm looks like a digger.

Specifications and Features

Cozmo comes with three power cubes that it can interact with. Measuring 5.0 by 7.2 b 10.0 inches, this robot is small enough to bring everywhere. The Anki Cozmo bot has a wide range of facial expressions that tell you how it feels. These facial expressions change in direct response to what's happening in the robot's environment. The Cozmo bot will also explore its environment and even gets to know you.

This robot connects to a companion app that allows you to interact with it. There are also gamification elements that you might enjoy. For example, if you want to unlock upgrades and more features, then you need to interact with the robot to earn enough points to do that.

The Anki Cozmo's rechargable lithium ion battery takes around 30 minutes to charge. A full charge, however, gives you about 1.5 hours of play. The robot is also designed to be durable.

The Cozmo app

One of the first things you'll appreciate with the Cozmo app is that it has a lot of content, and they add more content periodically. Not only that, more activities and upgrades are unlocked the more time you spend with your robot. The app will also show you what Cozmo's camera is seeing, allowing you to know if the robot is seeing people or pets. You can also use this feature to move things with Cozmo's arm. But what makes the mobile app particularly impressive is that it allows you to easily program Cozmo's actions, arm movements, emotions, and voice, among other things.

Anki Cozmo, A Fun, Educational Toy Robot for Kids
  • Cozmo is a real-life robot like you've only seen in the movies and he's ready to be your loyal sidekick
  • Challenge Cozmo to games or use Explorer Mode to see things from his perspective
  • With a beginner-friendly interface, Cozmo is the perfect educational robot for kids and adults to learn to creatively...

Some of the things that you can do with the Cozmo bot

One thing that you might like about the Cozmo bot is that you will never run out of things to do. Here are some ways in which you can interact with Cozmo:

Have a pet that never dies

If you ever had a Tamagotchi virtual pet, then you would love Cozmo's Needs module. In the old Tamagotchi device, you are supposed to care for, feed, and bathe a digital pet. With Cozmo, you will need to feed your robot and give it tune-ups.

Play with Cozmo

You can teach your robot to learn faces, interact with it, and have it perform stunts.

the Cozmo bot recognize you and other people

The Cozmo bot can learn faces. All you need to do is to enter your name and let Cozmo's camera look at you. After a few seconds, Cozmo will excitedly say your name to indicate that it has already recognized and remembered you.

cardboard robots

image via: pexels.com

Expand Cozmo's vocabulary

The Cozmo bot will learn words. Like the facial recognition, the robot will repeat back what you said to show you that it has remembered what you look like. Don't worry about it repeating curse words, either — Cozmo already knows the words that it should not say, and if you prompt it to try, the robot will register embarrassment or irritation at you trying to trick it into saying bad words.

YOU DON'T WANT AN ANGRY COZMO

The Cozmo bot can also get mad. And you'll know it, because it makes an angry expression and makes noises that tell you that you have not interacted with it enough. Cozmo also hates getting pushed over.

LEARN TO PROGRAM WITH THE COZMO BOT

The Cozmo app includes a Code Lab section where you and your kids can learn how to program. The Code Lab uses a straightforward graphic interface. You can see different blocks with each one doing different things. All you need to do is to link these blocks together to code a program for your Cozmo bot.

RATINGS AND REVIEWS

Amazon

Apple.com

Cozmo is rather well loved on Amazon, getting an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.0. Verified buyers called it cute, adorable, and smart. They loved how easy it was to follow the tutorials, guides, and instructions that taught you how to interact with the robot. Critical reviews, however, talked about the complicated pairing process. Others complained about how this robot breaks down quickly, despite the manufacturer's claim that the robot has been designed to last a long time, and has even undergone several tests to certify that.

Further, the Anki Cozmo garnered a perfect 5.0-star rating on Apple.com

PRICING FOR THE ANKI COZMO BOT

The Cozmo Bot is available on online retailer sites such as Apple, Walmart, and Amazon. Prices for this robot vary from $80  to $200.

HOW WE REVIEWED

To write this review, we checked the Anki Cozmo's information page, as well as its product pages on Amazon, Apple.com, and other online retail sites. Then we looked at reviews based on confirmed purchases to get a sense of customer satisfaction. We also relied on the opinions of reviewers from credible sites such as TechRadar and CNET.com.

HOW IT COMPARES TO COMPETITORS

It is a great time to be a kid who is interested in STEM these days. There are a lot of toys that introduce them to programming, robotics, and even engineering. How does the Anki Cozmo bot compare to the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 Building and Coding Kit, the Makeblock DIY Starter Robot Kit, or the Evo App-Connected Coding Robot?

LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 Fun Robot Building Set and...
  • Who doesn't love robots? Introduce kids to the creative world of coding with the best educational STEM toys to foster...
  • Includes 847 LEGO pieces that kids can build and rebuild into 5 cool multifunctional models. The best and most popular...
  • Construct and code Vernie the Robot to dance, rock out on the Guitar4000, foster Frankie the Cat, interact with the...

If you like playing with LEGOs, but would like to be able to program your robot, then you should check out the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 Building and Coding Kit. With 847 pieces, the kit has all the parts you need to create five projects, with easy-to-follow instructions you can find on the companion mobile app.

One thing you should remember before buying this kit is that it requires a smartphone or tablet to get the most out of the Creative Toolbox. Nevertheless, this kit is perfect for kids from seven to 12 years old. The LEGO Boost has a rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.0. Delighted customers rave about this kit's lower cost when compared to LEGO Mindstorms while remaining immensely educational. It is a fun way to introduce kids to robotics, design, and coding. However, some reviewers are not happy about the companion mobile app and how it often crashes.

You can buy this kit online from such retailers as Walmart, Amazon, and eBay.

Makeblock Starter Robot Kit, DIY 2 in 1 Advanced Mechanical Building...
  • STEM Education: Perfect choice for beginners to learn robotics, electronics and coding.
  • One Kit, Two Robots: Build a Robot Tank or a Three-Wheeled Robot Car with this kit - Mechanical Building Block. This...
  • Drag-and-Drop Graphical Programming: mBlock Software (Windows/macOS/Linux/Chrome OS) developed based on scratch 2.0...

When it comes to toys that teach kids about coding, electronics, and robotics, you will undoubtedly hear about Arduino and Scratch. Arduino is an electronics platform that has easy-to-use components. Your kids will be able to create electronics projects without needing to use a soldering gun. Meanwhile, Scratch is a programming language that makes use of a graphical interface rather than requiring you to write numerous lines of code. The programming language used by the Cozmo bot is a stripped down and simplified version of Scratch.

Why are we mentioning this? It is because Makeblock DIY Starter Robot Kit makes use of both. The LEGO Boost kit only allows you to build the robot or car, but the electronics are pretty much hidden away in the controller. Makeblock lets you build everything from the ground up.

The Makeblock DIY Starter Robot kit has enough parts to build two different robots. After assembling the robot tank or the three-wheeled car, you can then use the mBlock software that uses the Scratch programming language to direct how the robot will move.

This kit has garnered a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.0. People raved about how much kids learn by playing with this toy, and how it was a fun way to get into programming and robotics. However, Some people complained about the basic instructions that were not easy to follow and how some components do not last very long.

Recommended for older kids at least 12 years or older, you can buy this from online retailer sites such as Amazon, RobotShop, and the manufacturer's website. 

Evo App-Connected Coding Robot (White)
  • Meet Evo - an award-winning coding robot that unleashes your inner creator (ages 9+, beginner to master coding
  • Ready to roll - Arrives assembled and ready to play with app games and two ways to code
  • App-connected - level up and unlock upgrades with EVA as you make creations and play games like ozolaunch (works with...

While both the Makeblock and LEGO kits require you to assemble everything, the Evo App-Connected Coding Robot comes fully assembled, allowing you to focus on the coding part. Evo has the Code Evo online editor where you can learn how to program your robot. Or, you can use colored markers to program this robot. The Evo robot will recognize these colors and respond accordingly.

Evo also has several other sensors such as the proximity sensor that enables it to be aware of its surroundings. For instance, this sensor allows the robot to follow your finger. Meanwhile, the optical sensors help it see colors.

This coding robot garnered a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5.0. Amazon customers praise the wealth of online resources that you can use with the Evo robot and how you do not need any device to play with it. Negative reviews on the Evo robot are most not related to the product, such as their kids have stopped playing with it. Others complained that the Evo stopped working after only a short time. 

PROS AND CONS OF THE ANKI COZMO BOT

A common problem with educational toys is that kids often get bored with them quickly. They spend an hour or less playing with the new toy and then decide that they'd rather play Fruit Ninja or Monument Valley on their iPads. You do not have to worry about that with Anki Cozmo. The Cozmo bot is fun. You can teach it to dance when it sees you smile. Perhaps, you can make it stop moving if it detects that the dog entered the room. You can also treat it as a pet.

The Anki Cozmo bot makes learning a lot of fun. Plus, there is always something new to try when new content rolls out. Not only that, you or your kids could learn how to program without even writing a line of code.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

robot on desk with computers

image via: pexels.com

This robot is for kids as young as seven to eight years old, but younger kids might find it difficult to pair the Cozmo bot with the mobile app. There are many steps involved in the process of connecting the robot to your smartphone. For those who like building their robots, they should look elsewhere, such as the LEGO Boost or the Makeblock kits.

Programming? Coding? Robots? You may think that the Cozmo bot might be a little bit too complex for kids to play with. However, you would be surprised at how easy it really is. There is no doubt that this toy robot is high tech, but it is in no way technical. Even the programming aspect is graphical, making things a whole lot easier even for kids as young as seven years old.

The thing with the Anki Cozmo bot is that it is very engaging to play with. It makes learning how to code enjoyable, and it can encourage creativity from its users.

Even with its relatively high price, the Anki Cozmo bot is an easy toy to recommend. However, if you consider that you or your kids will probably spend a lot of time playing with it, and then subsequently learn from it, then its around $100 to $200  price tag would feel like a worthy investment.

Do you have this toy? What's your experience? Let us know!

Sphero Ollie Robot: A Great Robot for Your Children

Sphero Ollie Robot

If you’re looking for a fun, interactive gift with some technical flair to it for your little one, you might consider the Sphero Ollie robot. This type of robot will provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for your child. However, the Sphero Ollie robot doesn’t have to be just a toy. It also offers programming and educational possibilities as well. But before we get too deep into all the features and functions of the Sphero Ollie robot, we'll first address exactly what it is.

What Is a Sphero Ollie Robot?

The Sphero Ollie robot is an app-enabled, portable robot developed and manufactured by Sphero. Sphero, well known in the world of robot toys, most recently became popular for its BB-8 robot. The Ollie includes many tricks in its portfolio, including the ability to spin, drift and drive.

Sphero Orbotix 1B01RW1 Ollie App-Controlled Robot
  • App-controlled robot with a tough polycarbonate shell that will travel up to 6.3 m/s (20.6 f/s, 14 mph). Driving apps:...
  • Bluetooth SMART instant connection (100 foot range)
  • USB charging provides over an hour of gameplay

Sphero Ollie Robot Specs

With your Ollie, you’ll get plenty of high-quality functionality. Here are some of the specifications that set the Sphero Ollie apart from other devices on the market:

  • 4.7 inches long
  • Reaches 14 MPH
  • Only 8.5 ounces
  • Works up to 100 feet away
  • Supports both iOS and Android
  • Comes in a polycarbonate shell

Consumer Reviews

Sphero Ollie robot

Customers really enjoy the Sphero Ollie robot, giving the device 4.1 stars out of 5 on its Amazon page. Most users rave about how much their children enjoy the product, talking specifically about the ability to program the device and then control it via a smartphone.

Some folks claim the device does not work right or charge well, but they are in the minority. Many others have nothing but positive things to say about their experience.

Pricing

Currently, you can pick up a Sphero Ollie robot on Amazon, Walmart, and the Ollie store. Prices vary depending on where you’re buying the device, as well as whether you decide to go with the white model that offers various trim colors, or the Darkside version.

How Does it Stack Up?

There are many small robots available today, so how does the Sphero Ollie robot compare with other robot devices? Let’s take a look at how the Sphero Ollie robot does against the Ozobot robots and Dash and Dot robots.

Pairing

The Sphero Ollie robot is perhaps the easiest of the three to pair. Simply place it on your device, and you’re ready to go! The Dash and Dot robot pairs easily as well; however, the Ozobot struggles with anything that has a case and cannot connect to anything smaller than nine inches.

Accessories

Included with the Sphero Ollie robot are some ramps that make playing with it exciting, but many users have shared that they enjoy using books and cardboard to create ramps of their own. The Dash and Dot robot does not come with any accessories. However, you can purchase a few options. Likewise, the Ozobot does not include accessories, yet you can use Crayola markers to draw lines for the robot to follow.

Longevity

By longevity, we mean the lifespan of the robot based on how rough users are with it. The Sphero Ollie robot, for example, is a very tough little device. It moves along at high speeds, crashes into furniture, and keeps right on trucking.

Dash and Dot robots are similar in toughness to the Sphero Ollie. However, there is concern about what happens to the robot when it’s picked up by the head. Comparatively, the Ozobot simply isn’t built to last

Usability

From a usability perspective, the Ollie could use a little help. Since the device is so fast, it can be difficult to drive the device. This is especially true for smaller children, so it might be wise to leave the driving to older elementary and middle-school aged children.

The Dash and Dot, on the other hand, is perfect for children of all ages, while the Ozobot is ideal for kids aged in the fifth grade and up.

Overall

While the Sphero Ollie robot offers plenty of perks and benefits, it does have a few drawbacks. It compares and stacks up nicely against other robot toys available today. It’s not overly complicated, can withstand the rough play that is common with most children, and is easy to set up and use.

How We Reviewed

Sphero Ollie Robot

Reviewing the Sphero Ollie robot was done by reading articles published by may reputable technology sites. These include The Guardian, Mashable, Gizmodo, and Slashgear. All offered insightful reviews that provided plenty of information. Some sites were more thorough than others, but each site included its own unique viewpoint.

Sphero Ollie Robot

Now that we’ve discussed some of the specifications of the Sphero Ollie Robot, its price range, and how it stands up against its competitors, let’s take a deeper look at the Sphero Ollie Robot.

Design

The Sphero Ollie Robot is a tube-shaped device that gives it the ability to get around very quickly. With this design, the robot can navigate both outdoor and indoor terrains with ease. Encased in a hard polycarbonate shell, you don’t have to worry about whether or not this device can withstand the impact of running into walls. It goes without saying that the Sphero Ollie robot is very durable.

Sphero Ollie Robot

With its one-of-a-kind LED glow, the Sphero Ollie gives you the capability of lighting up your robot in various colors. This means your little one can enjoy their robot no matter what time of day.

Additionally, your child can customize the Ollie to his or her liking. The robot has interchangeable hubcaps and tires, which come in several color options. The tires, for instance, come in black, pink, red, and green.

All these customization capabilities mean your child can give their Sphero Ollie robot a look and feel they want. It can be personalized to their desires. The drawback, however, is that the additional hubcaps and tires do not come with the device, so you will have to purchase them separately.

Mobile Application

You can control your Sphero Ollie robot with an Android or iOS application on your smartphone or tablet. It provides a joystick-type control interface, along with a trick pad that makes use of touch gestures which initiate certain tricks. Some of these tricks include spinning around or jumping off the floor, but we’ll get more into those later.

Included in the mobile app is a walkthrough guide that teaches you how to use the trickpad and the joystick. It’s not as robust as it could be, though, and Ollie would do well to provide users with a little more guidance and information.

Aside from that, the mobile application determines when you perform a specific trick and tells you more about it. There is additional information about the tricks, but there’s still something left to be desired. For instance, children might enjoy seeing built-in game capabilities or a more interactive tutorial.

Interactive

The Sphero Ollie robot does some pretty impressive tricks, and your children will really enjoy showing off its capabilities to their friends. Keep in mind that if the robot is indoors, you’ll want to create enough space for it to maneuver freely. It’s a quick robot, and it might easily go bouncing off things or crashing into furniture.

You can perform tricks on both carpeting and hardwood flooring. However, you might have to make some adjustments in the mobile application to get the best performance on various surfaces. Additionally, you can set up courses and ramps for the Sphero Ollie robot, which will help your child learn how to control the device better.

The interactive play aspect of the Sphero Ollie robot is fantastic. You can’t just sit on the couch and control the device; you have to get up and move around with it. Your child will be actively moving around as they set up courses and challenges for the device. It helps to improve hand-eye coordination and develops some basic engineering skills as well.

You don’t have to keep your Sphero Ollie robot indoors, as it can be played with outside as well. Just keep in mind that the robot is not waterproof, so it’s important that you keep it dry. Taking the device outside is a great way to get your kids outdoors. Take your children to a park and let them really see what the robot can do.

Programming

While the Sphero Ollie robot is fun to play with, it’s also educational. It can be programmed using Sphero’s SPRK lab application. Using SPRK, you can drag and drop the programs you want to use to control the robot. If you’ve used Blockly or Scratch, you’ll be comfortable using SPRK, as it has a similar interface.

Your children will probably take to the programming feature immediately. They may need a little help here and there, but overall the application is intuitive and easy to use. Most children enjoy the programming aspect of the robot as it gives them more control over how the device behaves.

The SPRK application offers a few sample programs which you can access when you create an account. With these programs, you’ll have the ability to control the accelerometer, which means there are some advanced opportunities for children within the SPRK environment. Seeing the Sphero Ollie robot do something you told it to do is a great motivator when learning how to program.

Charging

Included with your Sphero Ollie robot is a USB charger. Just like with your smartphone, you simply plug the cable into the port on the device, and it will begin charging. Also like many smartphones, the battery is built into the robot, so there is no way for it to be removed. The robot is powered by a lithium polymer battery.

Once you’ve fully charged your robot, you’ll get about an hour’s worth of play with it if you have it going full throttle the entire time. Just like with any other type of electronic device, the less stress you place on it, the longer the battery will last. Typical charge time for the Sphero Ollie robot is about three hours.

Additional applications

For those that are looking for more advanced applications, the device offers a Sphero Draw app. With this application, you can choose a specific color and draw a path for the device to follow. If you have a few Crayola markers lying around, these should do the trick.

Also available is the Tynker Kids coding application. This is a great example of the programming that provides the on-screen touch controls for the device. If you have younger children, this might be a better option than the more advanced main application.

Pros and Cons

Of course, no device is perfect, and the Sphero Ollie robot is no exception. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of this fun-filled device.

Pros

  • Very quick device
  • Works on both hardwood and carpet
  • Fun for children and grown-ups
  • Durable
  • Customizable options

Cons

  • Requires a bit of a learning curve
  • Needs to be re-calibrated after performing certain tricks

Is the Sphero Ollie Robot Worth It?

The Sphero Ollie robot is a pretty awesome little device. It’s a really neat tech toy that offers plenty of entertainment for children. It encourages and motivates them to use engineering skills to create challenges while offering plenty of room for programming and coding.

While some children might only enjoy showing off some of the cool tricks the robot can perform, if they put in a little more effort, they’ll really get to a point where they can enjoy the benefits of the device. With a little time and dedication, any child can learn a lot from the Sphero Ollie robot.

Sphero Ollie Robot

This little robot offers a lot of technology for your money. It provides various programming applications that work for children of all age groups. With its features and functionalities, the same child will be able to continue using their Sphero Ollie robot even as they continue to grow.

The Innovative, Groundbreaking History Of Digital Literacy

what is digital literacy

The defining aspect of the past four decades is the rapid advancement of technology. Across the world, our lives are increasingly defined by our access to the Internet through digital devices.

Yet as the Internet has become more and more a part of our everyday lives, there becomes a deeper question of how we interact with it.

Whether we were adults well before the Internet was such a central part of our lives, or we were born with a cell phone in our hands, how we use the Internet and communicate through it has become increasingly important.

desk-computer-watch-screen-table-keyboard

This ongoing problem, which has social, ethical, and cultural implications, is closely tied to the trend of digital literacy.

But, what is digital literacy anyway?

What Is Digital Literacy?

In the past two decades, the concept of digital literacy has become more prominent.

This concept has been defined differently by just about everyone who has tried.

Under the umbrella of digital literacy is a range of skills, mostly involving the flow of information surrounding new digital technologies.

Since we are all surrounded by digital technology, from the richest to the poorest of us, it is becoming more and more important to know how to interact with the Internet and its other users.

iphone in hand

What skills make you digitally literate?

The scope of digital literacy covers skills that relate to the responsible use of technology.

This is an incredibly wide range, but it can be boiled down to a few core areas.

Consider these:

Digital etiquette, which covers a broad range of behavior, involves respecting other people on the Internet.

It means realizing that the username and avatar represent a real person.

It also means realizing that everything on the Internet comes from somewhere. That means whatever you share, sources you use, bullying you partake in, all have an effect on someone, somewhere.

On the other end of digital etiquette is content curation.

Content curation is being aware of what you put on the Internet, and how it can spread. It's knowing that whatever you put out cannot be brought back in, and can often be tied to you all too easily.

An important part of the future of digital literacy is how it can contribute to success.

The Internet is a pathway for many to pursue their passions, to earn an education, to connect with life-changing opportunities.

Constructive and safe use of digital devices starts with being a decent person. There is no end to where it can take you.

students studying using laptops

How is it different from traditional literacy?

One of the biggest misconceptions about digital literacy is that it has anything to do with traditional literacy — that is, reading and writing.

Many consider digital literacy to be the ability to use critical thinking to sort out unreliable sources on the Internet.

And this is important, it's true.

But that's not any different from what students have been needing to do for traditional sources for centuries.

Thinking of digital literacy in terms of traditional literacy is doing a disservice to both.

Kids that aren't traditionally literate, who don't know how to read deeply or use scientific reasoning, can't use the Internet in place of those skills.

Digital literacy is so much more.

It takes aspects of traditional literacy, emotional literacy, and social literacy to create a new sort of environment.

It's one where sources need to be scrutinized, where you can interact with anyone in the world, where deep secrets can easily be put on display.

So instead of defining digital literacy as a replacement or a challenge to traditional literacy, think of it as complementary. Define it on its own terms.

study table with books laptop pencils and iphone

Looking towards the future of literacy

The concept of the changing face of literacy has been around at least since the turn of the century.

Marc Prensky, an education reformer, divided generations based on their digital experience into “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.”

“Digital natives” are those who grew up in and around technology. They learn through multitasking and are accustomed to instantaneous information.

There is a deep-seated divide between these younger natives and the older “digital immigrants,” who have to adapt and adjust to new media and streams of information.

But that's not all:

Prensky argued that students of the 21st Century don't just use different technology to learn — there's a fundamental difference in how they think and process information.

This creates a teaching gap between older “immigrants” and younger “natives.”

But Prensky's thinking, even 20 years ago, was ahead of its time.

He argued that “Future” content, which includes software and hardware, robotics, and other similar concepts, are not complete on their own.

They come alongside the ethics, politics, sociology, and new language that develop and go along with new technology.

man studying with laptop and phone on the table

Digital Literacy By Generation

Digital literacy didn't exactly start with computers. Sure, being skilled in a coding language is a type of literacy.

But digital literacy encompasses much more than that.

Digital literacy started to be important a bit later, as people started sharing information across computer networks.

However, the Internet wasn't always around. Even in the past few decades when it has existed, our methods of interacting with it have developed rapidly.

As sharing information changed, so did what digital literacy looked like for each new generation.

Just to be clear, this is who we mean when we talk about Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z:

The Beginning Of Digital Literacy

Digital literacy started once people began to share information across computer networks. In the early days of computers, this took the form of bulletin board systems or BBSes.

In these days, everyone who used a computer was “literate” in the sense that they had to be skilled in computers. They weren't quite household objects yet, more like tools for scientists and hobbyists.

Here's how that changed:

BBSes let people communicate, share files (slowly), and even play very basic games together.

BBSes took a pretty significant degree of technological know-how, but they forecast an era where everyone communicated via the Internet.

In fact, it was the Internet itself that ended the age of the BBS.

As communicating with people became commonplace, the prevalence of real digital literacy grew.

But a lot of people, whether they grew up well before the Internet, or completely entrenched in it, are still unsure how to be digitally literate.

Online Responsibility For Pre-Internet Adults

The trickiest thing for pre-Internet adults — Prensky's “digital immigrants” — is separating technological capability from digital literacy.

It goes something like this:

Baby Boomers, who were born around 1946 to 1964, are quite a bit less likely to have broadband internet at home than Generation X or Millennials.

They are also less likely to use forms of technology like smartphones and tablets, or social media.

So for Boomers, digital literacy isn't so much learning about the politics or ethics of the Internet and digital devices. It has a lot more to do with just learning how to use it.

In fact, there's an interesting rift growing between members of this older generation.

Many don't use the Internet at all and think that it is largely irrelevant to them. A lot of Boomers would rather communicate via traditional channels.

But plenty of others use the Internet to stay relevant. This may be at work or in their everyday lives.

Lots of older people use digital communication to stay in touch with their friends and family (and to connect with their tech-savvy grandkids).

Resisting digital literacy, however, is crippling to those who choose it.

It widens the generation gap between young and old. And it can also restrict their contact with the outside world.

With only traditional channels of communication, anti-tech Boomers limit themselves to old news and social isolation.

Adapting to new forms of tech and communication is important for Boomers, even those in the later years of their lives.

Continuing education for Gen X-ers

While many look to Millennials, or Generation Y, as the first digital generation, it is the generation that came before which paved the way.

Generation X, situated in between Baby Boomers and Millennials, have something of a “digital dual citizenship.”

Here's why:

After spending the first years of their lives in the relatively tech-free environment of their parents, their teens were filled with a boom of digital technology.

Generation X watched change happen firsthand, being more-or-less thrown into the new Digital Age.

Computers, which at their birth were room-sized contraptions, could be shipped in boxes by the time they joined the workforce.

While they adopted technology quickly and use it as readily as any later generation, they had to fight against older generations who were resistant to new approaches.

Gen X-ers can appreciate the power of technology, but they are old enough to have seen it fail.

The dot-com crash of 2000 saw to that. So, they know how to balance their expectations of technology while still taking advantage of it as much as possible.

Where Generation X really excels is in the combination of pre-Internet techniques with new digital systems and approaches.

Having seen life function without digital technology, and seeing how much easier it can make life, gives them a perspective that neither generation before or after has.

Growing up in the digital age

Digital tech has been relevant long enough that there are now two, if not three, generations of digital natives.

One of these generations is Generation Y, also known as Millennials, who were born from the early 1980s to the mid or late 1990s.

Following Millennials are Generation Z, which includes everyone born since 2000.

These two generations are often confused for each other — Millennial is sometimes used as a catch-all “kids these days” term.

But although they have a lot of distinct differences, they are similar for having never lived in a time where the Internet and digital technology was not prevalent.

For Generations Y and Z, devices such as computers, cell phones, and video games were ubiquitous throughout most of their childhood. They are certainly central to their experiences and lives now.

Most children of these generations view being online as a generally good thing. Very few have experienced times when being online was largely a bad thing.

This is because the Internet, for these two generations, is their main form of interacting with, well, everything.

It's like this:

These two generations use online platforms for all sorts of things.

They use computers and cell phones for homework, for connecting with friends and family, as a form of expression.

They share and access information, and find solutions to everyday problems through the web.

When the Internet is their primary form of keeping up with their friends and keeping up with the world around them, it's almost impossible to view it as a bad thing.

Of course, when almost 40 years' worth of people relies on the internet so strongly, it makes sense that most of the concerns over digital literacy come from them.

But some of the most significant advancements do as well.

Digital literacy for digital natives

For those who have grown up in the digital era, digital literacy is something of a first language. We assume Generations Y and Z are digitally literate because they are digital natives, after all.

And although they are much more proficient with digital devices than their older counterparts, their digital literacy is still in question.

In fact, they are often less digitally literate than they think.

Check it out:

The culture of digital use that surrounds Millennials and Generation Z is completely pervasive. There's rarely a time when someone from one of these generations isn't connected to the Internet somehow.

But the kicker is, that culture of use is completely recreational.

It's all about communication, entertainment, and leisure. They primarily use the Internet to stay connected with their friends.

But when it comes to academic and professional purposes, Millennials and Generation Z are lacking.

Higher education institutions often eliminate computer class requirements, usually because students have received computer education beforehand.

But many of their students do not have computer competence, even though they are always online.

A study of students and their professors tested perceived computer skills against how competent they actually were.

Millennials in the study rated their computer competency highly but when the time came, they scored worse than they predicted they would.

Meanwhile, their professors rated themselves lower overall but proved that their computer skills were better than expected.

Overall, just because digital native generations are more proficient in using technology does not mean they are naturally good in professional settings.

The ease of use that comes from recreation and socialization does not translate to the ethics and politics that come with true digital literacy.

business woman showing plans using laptop

Aspects Of Digital Literacy

Although digital literacy's face changes from generation to generation, there are still ways that it looks the same for everyone.

One of the key aspects of digital literacy is being able to evaluate information for accuracy and bias. While this is valuable in any situation, it's especially helpful on the open forums of the Internet.

Remember:

Digital etiquette is also a huge part of literacy.

Behind every username and avatar is another person, putting their opinions and ideas into the world. Remembering that goes a long way towards conducting yourself properly on the Internet.

And of course, using the Internet is not just about treating other people with respect.

It's about making sure that the content you add, whether its images or opinions, are not something which will come back to hurt you later.

Being able to balance all three of these (and the various ways they present themselves) will go a long way towards becoming digitally literate.

internet sites and applications

Evaluating information

A notable issue which has been on the Internet since its creation is that of fake information. Early on, this often took the form of a malicious download link with a virus hiding on it.

But times have changed:

Nowadays, it often comes in the form of articles that are either entirely false or depend on misinformation to get the point across.

Being able to tell when information is untrue, or at least biased, can make for more responsible Internet users and limit the spread of misinformation.

However, this seems to be a learning point for older Internet users, who may have less experience with false information on the internet.

A study examining sharing behavior surrounding the 2016 presidential election showed that age was overwhelmingly the deciding factor when it came to false articles.

Education, race, income, and political affiliation were all secondary to age.

Why is that?

Well, one hypothesis was that older people are less digitally literate than younger generations, as they adopted the Internet later in life.

The good news is that evaluating information seems to be more of an issue for new Internet users. A study of seventh graders in 2005 showed that they were likely to believe a false article from the Internet.

One way to be more discerning of your news sources? You might want to try keeping a cool head while you browse, and read through the whole article.

A study published in Research and Politics showed that people who only read article previews — the snippets that come up on your Facebook feed — tend to think they're better informed than they actually are.

What's more, those that were looking for emotional responses were more likely to focus on previews.

So, remember to let your better judgment prevail and make sure you get the whole story.

woman sitting on the couch and reading news paper with fake news as the headline

Digital etiquette

The process of interacting with people over the Internet is a tangled web of rules, both unspoken and very much written down.

Part of this is due to the fact that many times, Internet users forget they are interacting with other people as long as they have the shield of anonymity.

Other times, it is because the lines between digital and physical blur, meaning your once-online interactions become very personal.

As much as the younger generations find the Internet to be an overall positive thing, it's pretty easy to see that we don't teach responsible use of tech.

Cyberbullying and public shaming are prevalent on social media, both on a public and private scale.

The numbers are proof:

Worldwide, around 62 percent of children have had negative experiences online.

And out of kids on social media, 74 percent have dealt with some sort of meanness or unpleasantness, most often out of interaction with their peers.

A big part of this is because tech no one teaches tech. The vast majority of our digital interactions are purely independent.

Anyone who is over 13 and has a smartphone can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, and there are definitely not classes on how to use these platforms in high school.

But everyone on social media, regardless of age, needs to be taught how to treat others with respect and kindness just like they are for physical interactions.

This is a part of digital literacy that users often overlook. Many focus on using digital tech in professional spaces but forget that social interactions on the Internet are mostly self-taught.

Web users, whether parents, friends, or family, can hold others accountable to treat others online the way they should be treated in real life.

suit formal wear

Content curation

The sad truth about the Internet is that, despite our best efforts, there will always be someone out there looking for a new way to take advantage of you.

Because of this, one of the third keys to digital literacy is content curation. Content curation is the practice of regulating what you put out into the Internet.

The first thing to teach new Internet users is that information on the Internet doesn't go away.

It could be an embarrassing picture or an embarrassing opinion from youth. Either way, someone could pull it back up after years of dormancy.

But embarrassing (or, potentially, career ruining) social media posts are not the most of your troubles when it comes to oversharing on the Internet.

Giving away too much information can make you an easy target for hacking and other cybercrime.

It's all too easy to give away too much information on the Internet. This could lead to something relatively benign, like your Twitter account sending spam to your friends.

But that's not all:

It could also lead to someone accessing your credit card and sharing it on Facebook for anyone to use.

Curating the things you share on social media isn't limited to content about yourself.

Parents might share too much about their children, or you may end up mentioning something about a loved one that they would rather keep private.

Going Deeper Into Digital Literacy

Of course, these three aspects of digital literacy are very broad. While they may not emphasize some of the finer points, they encompass a core set of skills needed to maneuver through the modern Internet.

One point that may fall under content curation, is security. Many people are happy with their password process and think they are secure.

Sadly, it is often not enough.

A recent study used an algorithm that could accurately guess 73 percent of passwords in just 100 guesses.

It does this by using public information to guess things about you, like your pets names or graduation year to hone in on what your likely passwords are.

Digital literacy is an evolving discipline, just like the medium it uses.

digital security entering user name and password

The Global Reach Of Digital Literacy

Just like the Internet, the importance of digital literacy is a worldwide phenomenon. It is far from limited in its scope or its use.

While most people will be content to use the Internet for personal or professional purposes, the youngest generation is using the Internet for truly world-changing ends.

using internet to communicate

Using the Internet to change the world

Technology is full of potential as a tool for youth to succeed in a modern, interconnected world.

The presence of technology everywhere in the world is a great advantage for children in conflict zones.

It allows them to access high-quality educational tools and content where they otherwise might not be able to.

Mobile technology also allows migrants to access information and contact their loved ones even during travel.

And having technology at your fingertips helps in an emergency. You can reach help or access cash even when otherwise cut off.

And there's more:

Digital literacy is also a powerful tool for social organization.

Both the younger and older generations are using the Internet to create social change.

Members of Generation X often make use of their own experiences adopting tech into their lives. By drawing from this, they help older digital immigrants make full use of the technology that is available.

Meanwhile, members of Generations Y and Z take a more active role in creating the change they want to see in the world.

By organizing peers and spreading their message on social media, young digital natives are making their mark with the defining aspect of their lives.

What does digital literacy mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be digitally literate? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Effect of the Digital Age on the School Classroom

The Effect of the Digital Age on the School Classroom

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