Whether we like it or not, while learning about the world around them kids often tend to emulate their parents. While this can be incredibly cute at times, it can also cause a fair bit of inconvenience.
2 to 5 years
Interactable parts: 1
Entertainment, education, auditory and visual stimulation, development of motor and cognitive skills, teaching numbers and letters, preparing the child for the digital world
One of the most common examples of the latter is having your kid constantly try to get to your smartphone, simply because they noticed how much time adults tend to spend with the device. To help you avoid this, and to provide your child with an educational toy, VTech developed their Call And Chat Learning Phone.
Slightly larger than an average smartphone, VTech Call And Chat Learning Phone is a very versatile toy, meaning that while it would be a great gift for a 2-year-old boy, it wouldn’t be any less interesting to a 5-year-old girl.
The phone comes with a number of different functions, some of which are meant to emulate the features of real phones, like the ability to save up to five numbers of family members and friends; while others simply have an educational purpose, like simple apps teaching your child to recognize numbers or letters.
Even children who never showed any real interest in their parents’ phones find it very engaging and are capable of spending hours on trying out different apps, listening to one of the five available tunes, or conversing with the chatty bird that can be seen on the phone’s display.
One of the main reasons for this amount of interest is the simple variety of options that are available. In other words, as soon as your child gets bored with one app they will often simply move on to the next one, and often keep doing so until the one they started from becomes interesting again. While this kind of addictiveness can look similar to the much more sinister one that adults often display with actual smartphones, the educational potential of the apps loaded in the VTech Phone toy makes it highly beneficial. In other words, the more they use the toy, the more they are likely to learn.
Weighing 7.2 ounces and with its dimensions being 0.9 x 3.3 x 5.9 inches, VTech Call & Chat Learning Phone is not much larger than an average smartphone, making it just the right size for a child to handle comfortably.
Instead of a touchscreen, this phone has a monochromatic display and rows of buttons that a child can use to call up various apps loaded into the toy.
The first row has five buttons that can be used to memorize the phone numbers of the ones closest to the child, i.e. their mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and one friend. The memorized numbers can be pretend called, which results in the prompt for the kid to leave a message for the recipient.
The next two rows have 10 different buttons, 8 of which lead to interesting apps helping the child memorize numbers, play different tunes, learn the alphabet or explore how clocks work; while the final 2 are used to select one of 5 available ringtones, and to access the toy’s general settings, allowing you to turn background music on or off, adjust the screen contrast, etc.
The next section contains a simple numerical keyboard in two rows, followed by the function keys like enter, arrow buttons, and finally, call, Let’s Chat and call cancel buttons.
The phone uses 2 AAA batteries, which are included with the toy.
We‘ve already mentioned the numerous options that this toy offers, and this is the perfect time to cover them in more detail.
Since one of the more entertaining aspects of this toy is the fact that it can be used to simulate the actual smartphone experience, we’ll start from the Let’s Chat button. Located at the very bottom of the phone, between the red and green receiver, this button prompts a friendly parrot to show up on the display and start asking different questions. The voice activation feature registers the child’s response, at which point the parrot will ask another question. When the kid has had enough of the conversation, all they have to do is press the call cancel button to end it.
Another realistically phone-like option is entering the numbers of a child’s friend and family members. The child should simply select one of the available characters in the topmost row, and then use the number keys, arrows and enter to provide the numbers associated with these characters. Once the numbers are stored, they can be edited or pretend called. While this could be used to help your child memorize the numbers of closest family members, some people are unnerved by the idea that their actual numbers will be stored in a toy that can easily be lost and prefer to have their child use completely random numbers.
This leaves the two learning activity rows, which aside from providing access to ringtone selection and settings, also contain no less than 8 educational games. The child can learn letters by scrolling through the alphabet; answer increasingly difficult questions about numbers or letters; learn to use a clock by having the phone read out different hand positions on a clockface; listen to one of five available melodies and change the instruments used for reproducing them; browse through an image gallery; and finally, ‘charge’ the phone by blowing into the microphone to either get an animated windmill to produce power, or to disperse the clouds and allow for the production of solar energy.
One of the interesting benefits of the VTech Call And Chat Learning Phone that you usually don’t get with other toys is that you can roughly assess how interesting it is likely to be to your child even before the purchase. In other words, if your child is constantly after your smartphone, you can be pretty sure that they will like their surrogate phone just as much.
That being said, even kids who didn’t show this kind of interest before find it difficult to resist all the games and opportunities for interaction provided by the toy. While you might grow tired of the parrot’s voice after a while, kids are highly amused by having a virtual conversation partner, and using it in breaks from other games and activities keeps their general interest in the toy alive. If you notice that your child is particularly fond of this option, you might want to think about getting them an actual walkie talkie as their next gift.
While you probably wouldn’t be too happy if your child spent hours on their smartphone once they grow up a bit, doing the same with this toy is not only harmless but can actually be quite educational. The majority of the phone’s functions are in some way instructional, either helping with the child’s motor or cognitive skills, or with specific areas of interest like letters, numbers or telling the time. The fact that some games are more demanding than others makes the phone suitable for different ages and ensures that younger kids can use the phone for years before getting bored with it, at which point, you might want to consider buying them one of these highly praised children tablets.
Since it is, after all, an electric toy, the phone won’t endure just any kind of abuse. For instance, it is not waterproof, but when it comes to handling the most typical type of mistreatment it is likely to receive, i.e. being dropped or tossed in a tantrum, you have nothing to worry about.
Even though a large majority of reviewers have expressed nothing but satisfaction with the VTech Phone Toy there were those who had certain concerns.
One of the most common ones is typical for toys that make noise, and that is the absence of a volume control button. While the default volume setting is low enough to ensure that your child’s hearing won’t be in any kind of risk, there are still parents out there who find it annoyingly loud. Fortunately, since this kind of thing has plagued parents since the first toy of this kind was made, there is a hack you can use to minimize the issue. Namely, placing a piece of clear tape over the speaker can drown out the volume to a certain extent, making the phone significantly quieter.
The only other complaint that some parents had is that the phone’s display doesn’t have a backlight. This makes it difficult for the child to use the phone in poorly lit conditions, but since this is not often an issue anyway, most reviewers didn’t find it too bothersome.
Very reasonably priced, VTech Call & Chat Learning Phone provides for a perfect blend of entertainment and education to your little one. While you probably don’t want them to grow up too fast, that prospect is far less scary than worrying about them not being ready for what’s to come, and this toy is a great way of preparing them for the future.