Times have changed

Back in the day, kids used to play with wooden toys, porcelain dolls and train sets to stay occupied while the parents were at work or busy with chores. Today though, if you gave a child a wooden toy, they'd probably ask you why a tree deserved to be formed into a car - the symbol of one of the major greenhouse gas sources - then lecture you about how he wants to live in a decent climate when he gets older. If you get that kind of response, that kid's probably well beyond toys and would probably prefer a good read on an environmental dissertation or something. In any case, electronics are the way to go with most kids this day and age. It'll get them well-equipped for this electronic era we're in while also providing a fun alternative to toy around with than your 300 dollar iPod. Below are a few products that'll keep your kid occupied for days.

wooden treeCredit: Daniel Wildman

No more distractions

Games are a great way of keeping a child occupied when you're doing something important like driving or completing your taxes. Though most children these days already have a console in their rooms and likely a handheld game they carry around, sadly they may be without LCD monitors embedded in the headrest of the family van. So you're left driving and making sure you stay in the lane while trying your best to keep the kids from killing each other. A nice long movie, perhaps a trilogy, would maintain the peace for you and it'd also be nice to have a selection of 32-bit games they can play once the movies are over. Who knows, maybe you're driving cross-continental or something. There is a nice pair of headrests from EliteAutoSoundSales you can find on Amazon that provide that very thing. The model number is HR732Black, which of course is in black, but you can find them in tan or gray depending on the color of your interior. Also, if your child happens to be the environmental advocate in the family, make sure you're driving a hybrid.

Nice and smooth

An inexpensive kids portable DVD player is another useful electronic that'll make sure your drive is uneventful and pleasant. A child may not appreciate the sleek black design or silver-trim your portable DVD player has, but there are plenty of portable DVD players with favorite characters displayed that can bring excitement to your child's face. Some of the main ones include Emerson's Barbie DVD player, Disney's Princess themed player, one modeled after the movie Cars, and even a Spongebob Squarepants portable DVD player. Conversely, if none of these characters are appealing, or if the quality doesn't make the grade, a cheap Toshiba portable DVD player that may not be colorful or child-friendly in design, will still play movies with quality image and provide lasting entertainment as Toshiba is known to be a durable brand. There are also home DVD players for kids that go beyond just fun designs. A DVD player/projector that can project images to a wall from Maxwell has intuitive playback buttons with colorful shapes so the child can easily start watching immediately. It also has a mic input for karaoke that can be fun for the family.

clapper boardCredit: http://www.anna-ON-line.com

Picture perfect

Do you have a Spielberg in the family? Would he prefer instead to be the one producing the images for film rather than watching? Then a Digital Video Recorder from MoviePix is an electronic toy that'll plant that seed, turning him into the internationally known film director you want him to be. It'd be a nice gadget to take along on family vacations so he can hone in those camera angle skills or maybe get into vloggin(video blogging) to later share his experiences with his friends. It also has an SD card slot for extra storage and modes for photo, video or just voice recording. It comes in either red or blue, and has a little LCD monitor he can view images or video on.

There's more

There are plenty of cool electronics for kids that can be educational and fun, or just simply keep them out of your hair for awhile. Gadgets that help prepare a child for the real world are more valuable beyond the dollar amount you purchased them with. That's not to say that we should discard all non-electronic educational material like books or puzzle games we used to play when we were younger. They'd provide a good way for younger generations to see how we used to live in those archaic days. It's just that everything's going electronic - books, shopping, socializing - and soon everything will have an "e" prefix attached to the point that the only things we'll have left to do in the physical realm is sleeping, eating and relieving ourselves when nature calls (pretty sure an e-bathroom is not on the horizon). So it's a good idea to put that wooden toy back where you found it (like the tree your stole it from!), and give your kid something that'll sing with him, talk to him, and teach him a few things all without freaking him out.

clapper board image by Mathias Mazzetti/stock.xchng
wooden tree image by Daniel Wildman/stock.xchng