Music can be an incredibly powerful and productive tool, not only for entertainment, but also for education and enrichment. Children love listening to music just as much as their adult counterparts, but devices geared toward the older crowd may not be appropriate for the younger set. Shopping for an MP3 player that is kid friendly can be a daunting task, but there are many fantastic options for listening to music at home or on the go.
Cuddletunes MP3 Teddy Bear
Most infants and toddlers will already have an assortment of stuffed animals, but the MP3 Teddy Bear from Cuddletunes comes with the added bonus of having a built-in 1GB MP3 player that will play any DRM-free MP3 music or audiobook file. This cuddly MP3 player offers some great features that your little ones will appreciate:
- It is shaped just like the cuddly teddy bear that little ones already love
- Music controls integrated into the feet let your child adjust the volume or move on to the next track.
- Parents, guardians and family members can record messages or stories in their voices from anywhere, storing those recorded audio files in the on-board memory for the child to hear at any time. Sound recordings can also be uploaded remotely over the Internet.
Said to be "an instant hit with your little one" by Mommy Living the Life of Riley, the Cuddletunes MP3 Player Teddy Bear sells for just under $60.
SweetPea3 2GB MP3 Player for Kids
Designed for children up to six years of age, the SweetPea3 offers several features that make it ideal as a kid-friendly MP3 player.
- The over molded rubber design allows the media player to be particularly tough and rugged, standing up to the sometimes less-than-gentle handing of a child.
- There are parental controls integrated into the unit which include a hidden menu for volume, helping to protect delicate ears from hearing damage.
- The built-in speaker makes it easy to listen to music and audiobooks on the go, but there is also a standard headphone jack so not everyone has to listen to children's books or music.
- The large loop allows the SweetPea3 to be easily clipped to a stroller, and a single AA battery provides up to 50 hours of musical enjoyment.
Reviewers gave the SweetPea3 a great score of four out of five, with people noting that it was 'well thought out.' The SweetPea3 MP3 player sells for $75.
SanDisk Sansa Clip+
While this is certainly a music player that is perfectly suited for older children, teenagers and adults alike, it also has some great features that make it well-suited for kids.
- The bright OLED display features large icons and an easy to read menu.
- The SanDisk Sansa Clip+ comes with up to 8GB of on-board storage.
- There are straightforward controls on the front.
- It boasts an expandable microSD memory card slot for plenty of extra storage.
- There are a wide range of file formats supported
- As the name implies, it comes with a wearable clip for added convenience. This means that little Jenny can easily clip this music player to her pants or coat for hands-free musical enjoyment.
- It has a tougher design than most MP3s, so it can also withstand more of the daily abuse from child.
With a very impressive Engadget Global Score of 82, the SanDisk Sansa Clip+ retails for around $60.
Apple iPod Shuffle
While the iPod nano, iPod classic and iPod touch are certainly popular choices among music lovers of all ages, the iPod shuffle from Apple is more affordable and is remarkably small, in many ways making it ideal for children. While most people don't think of this as a 'kids' MP3,' it has enough features to make any kid happy.
- It comes in a variety of bright colors that make it the cool accessory to have.
- It's small and can easily be clipped to clothing so it's a bit harder to lose than something that goes into a backpack lose.
- It has simple controls that are easy to understand, even though there is no display.
- The current iPod shuffle comes in a 2GB capacity.
- The battery is rated to last up to 15 hours of audio playback and it is easily recharged via USB.
The iPod shuffle is also the least expensive iPod from Apple at $49 with free shipping.
How to Choose an MP3 Player
There are many factors to consider when buying an MP3 player for a young child.
- Durability: As with all other children's toys, the kid-friendly MP3 player should be built to withstand some level of physical abuse.
- Design: MP3 players that feature bright colors or the child's favorite characters can be a big plus in terms of aesthetic appeal.
- Sound: According to recent NPR reports, it is very easy for earphones to reach a level of sound (70-90dB) that causes irreversible hearing damage. There are some music players that restrict volume to prevent hurting those little ears.
- Compatibility: All MP3 players should be able to handle conventional MP3 files without too much trouble, but if having support for additional formats like AAC and AIFF are important to you, then you should ensure the chosen player supports these formats.
The Tech-Savvy Generation
It used to be case that children's toys were oftentimes simplified or dumbed down versions of their adult counterparts. However, the tech-savvy generation demands highly-functional equipment with the extra 'cool' factor.