Baby’s First Cubicle

Photo of the Young Explorers computer workstation. A child sits on a plastic sit using a keyboard while looking at a flatscreen monitor. The computer is built into a large plastic molded desk with two tall side panels resembling cubicle walls.

It’s the Young Explorer by Little Tikes!

What you get for a mere $2,600 is a large plastic housing for a CPU tower and flat-screen monitor in a kid-friendly desk-like display with huge side panels that resemble cubicle walls. It has a wireless card, decent computer specs, and several educational games.

In the company’s defense, those walls might in fact be awesome semi-surround sound speakers.

Now, surprisingly, my opposition to this toy isn’t based upon the silly notion that parents should teach computer skills to young children. Nor am I bothered by the fantastic expense.

Hey, if you have money to burn, what’s $2,600 among family? In the 1980s, spoiled rich kid Ricky Shroder had that awesome racecar bed on TV’s Silver Spoons. Today, a race car bed would run me $25 at a yard sale, $50 at a thrift store or about $300 new.

Photo of the backside of the desk, revealing an IBM CPU tower housed inside a compartment accessed by a door.

So, maybe 10 years from now all the toddlers will be strutting their mousing skills on discount play terminals. Except, how resellable is this toy? After 2 or 3 years the computer will be aging and by 5 years probably have some component fail, at the very least the clock battery. The software — if it’s even provided on discs — will be for an outdated operating system, making your savvy replacement of the CPU that much more  difficult. And, just try getting a different model monitor to fit well in the display housing.

For me, durability of toys matter, not just for their life with my two kids, but for everyone who will use them afterward. Would I really pay $2,600 on a toy that may be thrown away in five years? Hey, maybe I’d buy a special computer, but not the big hunk of plastic.

I wish I’d thought up “baby’s first cubicle” as the mocking title for this toy, but unfortunately it circulated on social networks a few months ago under that moniker. So, I’ll give it a shot. How about, Baby’s First Blue Screen of Death?

My wife noticed the arms of the child in the photo fall well below the level of the mouse and keyboard. She calls it Baby’s First Repetitive Stress Injury.

Your thoughts?


11 Responses to “Baby’s First Cubicle”

  1. Jim Nutt says:

    I’m trying to figure out where they got the computer. That’s an actual IBM branded PC in the thing and they’ve not made those for years. On the bright side, it looks like the tower can be swapped out for something different as the catalog entry specifies that the computer and desk ship from different locations..

    September 16th, 2010 at 6:12 am

  2. KGS says:

    I replaced my outdated laptop last year, a personal machine I use for work. I put some quasi-educational games on it and gave it to our four-year-old, figuring it was slightly better than TV as a distraction when we need one.

    (Pause to allow the anti-technology-for-preschoolers contingent to gasp in horror. Yes, we have various rules about it, etc etc.)

    She LOVES it. We set it on the coffee table, and she can sit and play in the living room where everyone else is. It’s her machine, so we don’t have to hang over her worrying about her accidentally messing up our files. When she’s finished, we put it away in a drawer. I wouldn’t necessarily have gone out and bought one if my old laptop hadn’t been at the end of its useful life, but Craigslist has a bunch of old laptops for $150 and under. I see no advantages to the cubicle.

    September 16th, 2010 at 10:45 am

  3. Amy says:

    Our library used this for it’s kids’ computers-it worked well for keeping the buttons out of the reach of kids or non-tech savvy parents. I believe the bench flipped over to make a higher seat for littler kids. I would not buy this myself!

    September 16th, 2010 at 10:46 am

  4. Tim says:

    Despite the photo, I think this really must be geared toward institutional use, as I’ve seen them in our libraries as well.

    September 16th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  5. Shannon says:

    Baby’s First Eye Strain Headache

    September 16th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

  6. kelly says:

    At first glance I thought the post said CRUCIBLE. In light of #3 on the list I think I will go with Baby’s 1st Crucible. It’s a test to see if they can handle the corporate world.

    crucible — n
    1. a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures
    2. the hearth at the bottom of a metallurgical furnace in which the metal collects
    3. a severe trial or test

    September 16th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

  7. observer says:

    this looks like it might be good in a setting other than a home, but i would not ever buy this for any child. what a waste of money on something that will not stay with your child for longer than 2 or 3 years tops. i could buy more important things for my family than that.

    September 16th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

  8. JMo says:

    ROFL … where’s your Like button?

    September 17th, 2010 at 10:11 am

  9. BloggerFather says:

    My first thought is that Dad has great hair, but that’s just MY obsession. I really don’t get it (unless it is geared toward institutions that spend other people’s money, and may as well spend it on this stuff). For 20% of that, you can get a great laptop, which can later be used to discover the secrets of the human body when the kid becomes a teenager.

    September 18th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  10. Judy B says:

    I missed this toy in the Poverty Tell Many Stories clip.

    Nice juxtaposition of blog entries.

    September 19th, 2010 at 7:55 am

  11. Amber says:

    Yep, our library has this. It was purchased with state funds through a program just for this unit.

    Here’s the kicker–it’s sitting there, useless right now.

    The computer runs with a program that allows no access to the operating system, the computer has an issue, and the librarians can’t diagnose/fix it.

    Unfortunately, there’s no one budgeted in the state program to do tech support.

    Nice, huh?

    December 22nd, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Post a comment

(will not be published)