LeapFrog's Game 

The local toymaker wowed Wall Street, but the educational frenzy it spawned may not be in children's best interests.

Page 5 of 5

Yet in the current overhyped atmosphere, where ambitious parents play Mozart to their fetuses and rush to put newborns on nursery-school waiting lists, how are other folks supposed to relax and heed the Folkmanises of the world? With considerable difficulty. The toy-industry marketing machine has added to the growing sense that life is on fast-forward, and that kids are getting older, faster. They shop for grown-up music, drink lattes, and gobble sushi years before they can dream of driver's licenses and dates. And the parents, anxious to keep them ahead of the curve, have accelerated their own expectations, assuming that drilling their kids on school skills earlier and earlier will keep them competitive with their peers.

"I don't want to take the LeapFrog toys away from kids," says Auerbach. "Technology has come a long way, and can be used to help children who need those aids to learn." But perhaps, she suggests, parents can make it a priority to set aside some time on a regular basis, shut off the television and all the gadgets, and rather than seeking a leap, simply offer their kids a lap.

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