Best toy computer

Pretend Play

The first portable computer was made in 1981 by Adam Osborne. In 1983, the Discovery System was released, which was the first fully electronic computer made for kids.

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Which toy computers are best?

In the past few decades, laptops have become an indispensable tool for work and a device for play. Unfortunately, because they are so technical, so fragile and so expensive, most laptops are designed for teens and adults only. Thankfully, some toy manufacturers have developed computers to engage children’s imaginations as well as teach them new concepts.

If you’re looking for the best toy computer to buy for a child, consider picking up the LeapFrog 2-in-1 Leaptop Touch. This laptop-tablet hybrid has five games that can teach kids about letters, numbers and music. 

What to know before you buy a toy computer

Children like to copy their parents

One of the big reasons why children want smartphones or laptops is simply because they see their parents with them. As these devices become more prevalent in everyday life, particularly with parents who work from home, it’s only natural that kids will want to imitate their parents. However, because children still have developing brains, getting them an actual laptop or smartphone may not be a wise decision: According to a Mayo Clinic article, experts recommend limiting screen time to an hour a day for ages 2 to 5. A toy computer or smartphone ensures that they can play without the ramifications of digital addiction.

More toy than computer

You may expect toy computers to function like an actual desktop or laptop computer, but in reality they are more like toys for kids than computers. Technically speaking, there is a built-in computer in these toys, but they have limited functionalities. Most of the tasks a child can do on these computers are limited to basic arithmetic, reading and spelling challenges, music and games. 

Suitable for young children

You may have concerns about giving a young child a laptop or phone. But with these toy computers, you have nothing to worry about. There’s nothing for them to download or access on the internet, as they are completely offline. That means you can avoid the addicting, harmful content that can sometimes pop up online, while still giving them the experience of owning their own gadget. Rather, these toys are great for teaching your children about English, math, music and science. 

What to look for in a quality toy computer

Laptop design

Definitely choose toy computers that actually resemble a laptop, complete with a folding screen and a working keyboard. Children these days are surrounded with enough laptops that they know exactly what one looks like, so anything that doesn’t resemble a real laptop may disappoint them. Younger children may be satisfied with receiving a toy that looks like a laptop, even if it doesn’t function like one, but older kids may want something that is actually electronic.

Games

Since toy computers aren’t able to access the internet or download any apps, you will want one that comes with a few games to keep your kid satisfied. They can use the keyboard to interact with items on the screen, whether it’s a music challenge or practicing their spelling. For plush toy computers, having multiple props may be enough to encourage them to play.

Durability

Children can be notoriously clumsy or rough with their toys during play, so you may want to consider picking up a toy computer that can survive a few drops or scratches. Fortunately many of these laptops have thick and rigid plastic casings, and folding them can help protect the screen and keyboard from any water damage. They also usually have a handle for convenient carrying and storage.

Accessories

To make their fantasy even more immersive, consider giving children additional accessories. These may include a mouse for the computer, or a plush smartphone. These are completely optional, although some may be included with the toy computer.

How much you can expect to spend on a toy computer

Toy computers start at around $20, and the premium toys can go up to $30.

Toy computer FAQ

Can the laptop play in other languages?

A. Expect most laptops to play in English. There may be a few exceptions, but for the flagship toys, they are solely written in English.

Can you download games to the laptop?

A. No. These laptops are completely offline, so you cannot download updates, games or programs to the laptop. This is also to protect you and your child from any unwanted attacks or content.

What are the best toy computers to buy?

Top toy computer

LeapFrog 2-in-1 Leaptop Touch

LeapFrog 2-in-1 Leaptop Touch

What you need to know: LeapFrog is one of the original toy computer makers, and the 2-in-1 is sure to make any child happy.

What you’ll love: The ability to convert the laptop into a tablet, coupled with a variety of fun games, make this an awesome gift.

What you should consider: The laptop screen is relatively fragile and may break after continual use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top toy computer for the money

VTech Lil’ SmartTop

VTech Lil’ SmartTop

What you need to know: The VTech Lil’ SmartTop is a great toy computer for kids looking for many activities to play on their laptop.

What you’ll love: It comes with 20 melodies and 10 activities. It also has a mouse accessory that other toys don’t usually come with.

What you should consider: The screen is very dim and outdated for today’s standards of display technology.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Fisher-Price My Home Office 8-Piece Play Set

Fisher-Price My Home Office 8-Piece Play Set

What you need to know: If you’re looking for a toy computer that is soft and usable by even babies, this Fisher-Price set is the best option.

What you’ll love: Comes with additional toys including a headset, a cup of coffee and a smartphone.

What you should consider: There are no electronics involved; these are made of fabric only.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Leo Herrera-Lim writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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