LeapFrog's new ClickStart My First Computer may not run Windows, Linux or the Mac OS, but it's designed to introduce kids aged 3-6 to the whole concept of computing without messing with daddy or mommy's expensive PC. The $60 system features a "child-friendly" wireless keyboard with nice big buttons, a console and a mouse that converts for right- or left-handed play. The console comes with a few built in games and activities, and you can buy additional software cartridges ($19.99) that plug into the top of the console.
Not surprisingly, there's a friendly green puppy named Scout to guide kids through navigation, mousing, counting, ABCs, phonic skills, simple math, shapes, and colors. Tots can even click on an in-box to get a greeting-card style e-mail, complete with sound for nonreaders.
I saw the whole thing in action today, and I'm ready to buy my 3-year-old one. With the QWERTY keyboard training under her belt, I figure she'll be able to step up to the big PC and start blogging by age 5. In fact, word is LeapFrog's developing a game called Ratatouille: Anyone Can Blog. In it, kids learn how to link to baseless rumors or better yet, just make ridiculous stuff up so other people can link to it and send traffic through the roof. A Photoshop tutorial for teaching the basics of doctoring images is included.
OK, I'm kidding about the last part, but a Ratatouille game really is in the works--and a Finding Nemo and Dora title are available this month along with the system.