All summer long, I suffered the same upsetness, as many other parents I have spoken to. We all remembered our childhood summers. Going swimming. Playing outdoors. Reading books. Playing with dolls, if you were a girl of course, otherwise with boy toys. I remember how D. dressed up as a knight and played outside every day, and when he grew out of knights, he dressed up as a soldier and ran around with a plastic gun, pretending there was a war on in the forest, with the neighbour boys.
Now you don’t find kids out playing games anymore. You almost have to force them to take part in the library’s summer book campaign, “read eight books and receive one for free”. Forget trying to get the boys to participate in that! No, come rain, come shine, they park themselves in front of a computer to play games and for the children, who are not on the computer, there is the DVD player to use, while they wait their turn on the computer. I don’t think I have ever spent such a frustrating summer ever, trying to get my children to do something else, but sitting parked in front of the TV and the computer screen. When school started in August, I was glad because for one, there would only be computer games played on Saturdays, again.
But, by then I had discovered that “Boo” did not play the silly, innocent games I had allowed him to play on the computer. No, when everyone was out of view, he just surfed in on games that I do not approve of. I can’t prevent D. who now have turned 20, from sitting killing people on-screen. But my other boys can forget sitting playing anything remotely close to people or things dying! NO SHOOTING or destroying of anything. For a while, I have noticed the little tablet Lexibook, at the toystore BR. When it first got out, it was way out of my range. But lately, or say for the past 6 months, they have had it on sale, for half the initial price. The price now being 799:- (£ 67.26 , $ 108, € 86.15 ). When I noticed that “Boo” was playing games I do not approve of, when I realized that I can’t prevent the kids from loving computer games, and when I realized that “Gubby” needs some form of stimulation, to learn colours, shapes, math etc., then I started to think about the Lexibook seriously. I started to think that perhaps 799:- was not such a bad price after all. T. and I checked the tablets available, since there are two, and decided that the tablet for small children, would be perfect. Nice, kind games. And sturdy construction if they accidentally drop it on the floor.
So, as a surprise, on the 22 August, I went to BR, with D. and “Gubby” in tow, and bought a Lexibook for “Gubby”, “Boo” and if necessary, “Kitty”. When the lady in the shop saw “Gubby” she said, no that is for babies and toddlers, you need to get the one for older children and I had to point out that, he is behind in learning, he is autistic and “the other child who is going to use this is also being tested for the same thing, and is behind in language and learning. I WANT THIS TABLET, with simple games and a sturdy construction”. She stopped arguing with me and happily we walked home with the machine and plugged it in for charging.
As a word of warning, the lady in the shop said “Make sure it is a grown up who plugs it in for charging. We have had a couple of them back, because children have plugged the charging plug in too hard, and have pushed something in the outlet hole too far in.”. I had no idea what the lady meant when I plugged it in. You have a hole on the machine, on the side. You have a charging cord with a metal “pin” at the end and you have to stick the pin in all the way in to the hole for the cord and the black plastic part, to touch the machine. You can’t have the pin hanging out half way, or you get no or uneven amount of electricity in to your machine! The boys were happier than happy!
We took photos of them with the tablet and created three “accounts”, since you can create three. So all three boys had their faces and their names on one box each, when you start the tablet. They soon found favourites among the games. “Boo” loved the squirrel, who has to get over a field of traps. And he also sat with a monkey jumping upwards, getting rewards and trying to avoid obstacles. “Gubby” loved to try most things, but he really loved the making hamburgers. I had to steer him in to the learning games, like one who taught shapes, and one who taught colours and light/dark. He also managed to do the funny game Jump Frog Jump, in the learning section, with my help and tried his hand at parking a car, or getting it out of a parking space really, and the memory game. He really came to love the latter.
Two Saturdays went by and the boys looked forward to every Saturday, since that is when they got to play on the Lexibook. And if I was nice, also on Sunday afternoons. But with the arrival of the third weekend, after my purchase of the tablet, the Lexibook no longer wanted to start-up. Sadly, I had to take it to BR and ask them what could be wrong. “Your children must have plugged in the charging cord too hard!”. No way was I going to accept that. I told them, that the only two people putting in the charging cord, was myself and my husband, after the warning they gave us when I bought it. I had decided that it was not going to break on us! I have an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone and have charged all of them for years as well as my laptop. I know how to charge electrical things and don’t use excess force! Nor does my husband. The machine was in for repairs, for an entire month and came back in time for Saturday, 12 days ago. The repairs people said we had put the charger in too hard.
I got really upset at this, and once again explained that only two grown ups had dealt with the charging. I also told the woman how it is very strange to sell a machine that is that hypersensitive. The girl agreed and said the binder in front of her, was full of Lexibooks in for repair, for the same thing. She had pointed out to the company, that since this machine is made for toddlers, it is insane to make the charging hole/outlet so sensitive. It is meant that children should charge it by themselves, and we did not even allow our kids to do this! They are no toddlers, who are a famous for being clumsy and not careful with things, but I wanted to make sure, just in case. I don’t understand why they have not put in an iPhone charger plug/outlet instead, which is wide? Or as T. suggested, a USB port opening which is also wide. Instead of having just a pin! But I told the girl, you have to stick the pin all the way in or your machine is not going to work! I went home with the machine, and “Gubby” was soooooo happy. He sat and played a lot on it that Saturday. And 3 days ago, he once again wanted to play on it, since it was Saturday again. But lo and behold, the machine no longer worked. Again!
This time I had told T. that I did not dare to charge it up, so he was the only person who was allowed to charge it up after we got the tablet back, a week ago. Sunday night, I told him “Since we bought that machine two months ago, it has spent the majority of the time, at the repairs. What’s the point? How many times are they going to repair it for us before they say, no, we refuse to fix it another time?”. The girl said they had never received a tablet back a second time for repairs. I thought that sounded hopeful, till ours broke down after one day of use. So, last night, I had T. take the tablet back to BR and demand my money back. I bet everyone else have done the same thing and that is why it never comes back for a second repair. T. said they did not fight him at all, no questions asked. It breaks my heart, but I did not see myself having any option. What is the point in having a tablet which spends all its time in a repairs shop and not in my children’s hands? I am so horribly disappointed with the whole thing because I considered the purchase for so long. It was a great sacrifice to shell out the money. But I wanted to do something nice for the boys, I wanted their time with computer games to be meaningful, I wanted especially “Gubby” to learn things. It had puzzles, films, memory game, feedback when doing colours etc. The thought behind the tablet was such a good one. Safe games, good games, collected in one place. And if I am going to be honest, both E. and “Cookie” thought the games were funny as well. Even I sat and filled hamburger orders, finding it a challenge to do so on time. So, it was very, very sad to let the machine go. But what is the point in having a good-looking tablet that will not start, a dead item for 799:-?
They did tell T. that an update is planned. For Christmas, he asked them? No, we have to sell all the ones we have first! Excuse me, but is that not totally dishonest? They have a big inventory of lousy tablets, which they are planning on pawning off on people, people who then in return, are going to come back to the shop with them broken. Because this machine will break! Noone can plug-in that charging cord without breaking the machine. It is impossible. We can testify to that! And why are they doing this? Would it not be cheaper to accept their mistake, throw away the machines and start all over? People are not going to buy the update when they know how bad the first one was! The market is a slim one, with lots of competition. They can’t afford making these mistakes. They really can not afford to sell off their inventory first and then have every customer come back with their machines. Idiotic plan!
I have no idea what to do next? Proper tablets with proper charging cords and outlets, are designed for grown ups. They are fragile and they are expensive. T. pointed out that he might be able to find some of the same kind of games for the boys, BUT it will take hours of searching and he doesn’t have that! It was so nice to have a tablet programmed with it all from the start, that someone had done the job for us already. And to go out there and get a Gameboy or Nintendo, is just not my thing. Kids get tired of games as the Dragons said in “The Dragons den” when they were asked to finance this lady’s business venture with carry ons which had built-in games in to them.
Last week I had my nails fixed and my nail technician told me how her son is really in to Skylanders. I have seen the little figurines at BR and did not know what they were for. But according to her, you buy a game and all these little figurines. Every figurine costing 129:- (£ 10.86, $17.43, € 13.91) and kids of course wanting them all. You put the figurine on the game somehow and then it “jumps” in to the game and stays there, till you remove it. So the little figurine is just needed for that first transfer. Her son had received the game and lots of figurines for it, when it first came out. Then the following year, they introduced new figurines called Giant Skylanders or whatever. But you could not use them with your game, you had to buy a new game for them to work. You could use your old figurines, for the new game, but not new figures for the old game. Old after one year, mind you! If this is not nasty and taking advantage of children’s game obsession and needing new kicks, just like game addicts, what is? The next year, a new game came with 27 new figurines. Can’t remember their names. Her relatives had asked what her son wanted and she told them all, that he wanted those figurines, she and her husband buying the game, once again. Of course he wanted all the 27 new figurines and that is what he received and when school started in January, he was the most popular boy in school. But for how long? She said that they release all these in time for Christmas and as it happens his January Birthday. She added that if you go home with your game to a friend and put one of your friend’s figurines on your game, then you get that character inside your game, so you could easily get all characters, if you and your friends share and visit each other, plan wisely in other words. But she said that kids just don’t go home and play at each other’s houses. They sit alone at home instead, when they easily could had saved a lot of money, if they had walked around to friends, adding characters to their games.
I must say that I detest all this business. If those figurines could have been sold on eBay or something, to children just entering the gaming age, I guess it would not have been too bad. But what child wants last year’s model or figurines from three years ago, when everyone in school talks of the latest models? It’s not cool is it? I will never jump on anything like this. And I will never buy a little machine with one game, which will be boring after so an so many weeks and then the nagging for a new game starting. No, we will have to come up with some other solution. But it will not be any of BR’s options, that is for sure. The Lexibook tablet was a huge disappointment!!!