Shannon Stacey

Gadgets for kids: iPod Touch vs Nintendo DS

Leading up to Christmas of 2009, when the Short Kid was nine, he started begging for an iPod Touch. I had one and his big brother had one, and he wanted one too. His dad said no. SK made all kinds of arguments has to why he should have one. Dad said no.

When I pointed out how much SK used mine, how adept he was with it, and how careful he was with it, Dad started wavering. Then I started nagging about the fact SK getting his own meant I could have mine back. Dad relented and Santa brought SK an iPod Touch for Christmas.

In the year-plus since, the Short Kid has never been far from his Touch. Every morning, he pulls up his weather app to check the temperature. If it’s over ten degrees, he knows they’ll have recess and he needs his snowpants. He reads the news apps and Wikipedia. He loves the Dictionary app and Word Warp and the GeoBee. Oh, and Angry Birds.

Toward the end of last summer, some friends of ours stayed at the campground and their son had a Nintendo DS with a Mario game. SK came away from that weekend convinced that he had to have a DS and, of course, that he was the only child on the whole planet who didn’t have one. When November rolled around and he was still asking, we bought him a Nintendo DSi XL for his birthday.

After a frustratingly brief honeymoon period, that was the end of that. I’m not sure he even knows where it is right now. Despite the cost of the DS, this doesn’t break my heart. Why? The games. Buying a decent game for the DS will set me back $30-40 or more and it might hold his attention for two weeks. Most of his iPod games were free or 99 cents. And there’s often a lite version which lets him try before we buy. He’s got a couple of pricier ($10?) flight simulators, and I think I paid $5 for Civ Rev and Oregon Trail, but I knew those were solid games he wouldn’t lose interest in. I think all of his games (except the simulators) might add up to less than the cost of a newly released DS game.

And it sure makes it easier when family members ask what my boys want for their birthdays or Christmas. Give SK a $10 iTunes gift card and he’s in present heaven. That’ll get him a few games and a couple of songs, or maybe a more expensive app Mom’s too cheap to buy him. (TK knows the iTunes password, but SK doesn’t. He brings it to me for purchases and updates.)

Because I decided not to upgrade their 2nd & 3rd gen devices to iOS4 after doing so to my 2nd gen resulted in massive battery nomming, we’re starting to find apps his Touch can’t run (and iTunes tells us so) so he has a few games on my new Touch and the iPad. And, even though they’re pricey, TK will probably get a new one in July and SK for Christmas. With all the things the Touches do, from games to educational apps to…anything and everything, I can’t see us buying a dedicated handheld gaming system ever again.

7 comments to “Gadgets for kids: iPod Touch vs Nintendo DS”

  1. Carin
      · February 25th, 2011 at 9:57 am · Link

    I have 3 elementary aged kids, and they have very generous grandparents, so each of them have an iPod touch and a DS. I totally agree with what you said – I don’t think we’ll be getting another dedicated gaming system.

    They each got $40 in iTunes cards for Christmas, and they’re still buying apps off that. Plus, we have a family rule (mostly to make things easier for me) that once an app is 3 days old, it is to be shared with the entire family.

    They do still get out the DSes. During the ever so many snow days we had, two of them went on a Pokemon bender on the DS. But other than that… I’d say their screen time is 75% iPod, and the other 25% split between TV, computer, xbox, Wii, and finally DS.

    If the Pokemon people are smart they’d make an app. My kids would pay a lot for that!

  2. Charlene Teglia
      · February 27th, 2011 at 11:57 am · Link

    We refused to get our kid a DSi despite her constant campaigning. They have old laptops for schoolwork, and which are set up with all kinds of kid-friendly sites and programs. And now they have old multi-function phones the husband has replaced but which still work great for apps (including Kindle) and games. So now they have hand-held devices that do all sorts of educational and entertaining things and we have a use for the husband’s old cell phones. Win.

  3. Tori
      · April 9th, 2011 at 6:38 am · Link

    Nothing worse than a lazy parent that buys their kids devices made for teens and adults. No wonder the obesity rate is high and more and more children are starting to have behavioral problems. Thank God I came from the era where children had REAL childhoods where the only game device we had was the Game Boy and that would last us for years until we finally got to high school and were old enough to have cell phones.

    I imagine you are one of those parents that advocates little kids having cell phones too. It is disturbing how parents want to turn their children into little adults too soon. Are you afraid they will have a real childhood where their biggest worry is not getting to play outside because of bad weather????

  4. Shannon
      · April 9th, 2011 at 9:38 am · Link

    Obesity and behavioral issues are a problem. My sons, however, who are the only children I’m responsible for, are straight-A students, are not obese, and have never been in trouble. If, at some point, that should change, I’ll reevaluate the technology in their lives.

  5. Chris
      · November 24th, 2011 at 9:00 am · Link

    I appreciate the comparison at top. My 9 year old has a DS and I wasn’t sure what to buy my 14 year old for Christmas so this is helpful.

    Just a note when it snows here in Wisconsin the last place we are is in the house gaming…it’s time for huge snow forts, snowball fights and hot cocoa. :)

    Merry Christmas to Moms everywhere…we are all doing the best we can!

  6. K mackleby
      · February 12th, 2012 at 8:11 pm · Link

    Yeah, we bought all the grandkids a DS and ipod touches too, and don’t really appreciate the “lazy parent” comment above.

    Portable gaming devices didn’t even exist when we were kids, but then again, we weren’t continuously strapped into car seats, and forced to keep still for hours on end, except for the annual family vacation, where constant fights broke out, along with the inevitable “She’s touching me! Stop touching me!” Not to mention, “Are we there yet?… Are we there yet?….”

    We bought them portable gaming devices because daddy works out of town, so mommy has to strap them all in the car every Sunday night for a 3 hour trip to the airport, and another 3 hours every Friday night to pick him up. When we take them, it’s a 4 hour trip to my mom’s, and additional 2 hours to my sister’s. those portable gaming devices enable all of us to enjoy these rides in peaceful tranquility.

    In first grade, my grandson tested at a 5th grade reading level and that’s because you can’t play “Zelda Twilight Princess” without knowing how to read, so he basically taught himself–at 4 years old.

    Angry Birds is a fun way to teach children trajectories – introducing them to the scientific physics principles! Portal’s even better. Scribblenauts develops spacial puzzle solving skills, while games like Brain Age develop a number of skills, including math, logic, puzzle solving and the ability to think fast.

    He’s 8 and they just tested his IQ. He scored so far above average, you don’t want to know. What I know though is that his OMG! scores probably have more to do with the fact that he already knew a lot of the answers. The same exact “brain teasers” are on the Dr. Layton, and the many other puzzle solving games he’s been playing since he was a toddler.

  7. Mark
      · July 6th, 2012 at 8:44 am · Link

    k mackleby I don’t know why the “lazy Parent” comment bothers you…It is lazy just admitted it makes your life easier. It also sounds like your parents were lazy in that they didn’t correct your behavior in the car when you went on trips. And I have news for you…your kids IQ has nothing to do with DS

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