LeapPad Ultra – a compromise on screen time?

LeapPad Ultra review

I’m going to start this post with a huge admission: I’ve never been a fan of tablets for kids. Go ahead and call me a judgemental so-and-so all you like, but I’ve always thought they were a bit of a cop out. Parents looking for an easy way to distract their kids, without having to actually play with them. Mums and dads using a tablet so they don’t have to go outside in the mud and get dirty running down hills. They’re not educational, are they? They’re just turning our kids into mindless zombies….

Yeah, I was wrong.

I am happily holding my hands up right now and admitting that, after trying out the LeapPad Ultra, I am the first to say that, actually, there IS a place for a child’s tablet in our home.

We were recently sent a LeapPad Ultra to review. Here’s a video of it in action….

So why have I suddenly changed my mind about kids and tablets?

Well the LeapPad Ultra is packed full of educational games. If my child is going to sit in front of a screen (which she is at some point in the day, whatever my protestations) then at least she’s DOING and LEARNING something.

Come 4pm and all my 3 year old wants to do is lounge on her beanbag and either scroll through my (snitched) phone or watch TV. She is lethargic, tired after a busy day being active. And I’m busy making tea and getting clean PJs for bedtime. The LeapPad Ultra has full parental controls, so I know I can let her have a play, learning something at the same time.

There are gazillions of educational games on the LeapPad Ultra, along with a camera (Frog’s latest obsession) and video recorder. So, as a mum who is intensely aware of the need to limit screen time, I have no qualms about letting her play with the LeapPad Ultra for a limited amount of time.

LeapPad Ultra

The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine is an IT teacher with a healthy obsession in tech and gadgets. On these things, I bow down to his greater wisdom. He tells me he was impressed with the graphics, hi-res screen and endless options of activities. In fact, he admitted to being a little jealous.


As a screen-phobic parent I’m surprised to find myself readily recommending the LeapPad Ultra, even for a child as young as 3 and a half. I suppose, as with anything, it all comes down to moderation. Every afternoon running around fields getting muddy or going on the swings at the park simply complements half an hour on the tablet, learning about the alphabet, colours and letters.

My verdict? The LeapPad Ultra is worth every penny.



The LeapPad Ultra is available from a range of retailers from around £100. We were sent this product for the purpose of this review. All views remain my own. 


  1. Kate W says

    Small had the original leap pad for Christmas last year and LOVES it (she was only just 3).

    She can share games with her Sister (who has a leapster explorer, but the games are the same) and one of the nicest things is to watch them problem solving together as they go!!

  2. says

    At the end of the day it’s the worrying thought that there are those households with children playing on them for long stretches at a time. Where parents give their children these digital toys for an easy life. And to children so young. My just 2yo loves my phone. I posted 2 days ago on the very subject, wld love u to take a look Molly. You know I wonder about the social skills of these kids that only interact with machines. And then I think of their parents, their role models who are always on their digital toys too. Ah, it’s all gone to the dogs, as my dear ole gran used to say!

  3. says

    Really interested to read this Molly- we are umming and arring over buying our nearly 4 year old a ‘pink tablet mummy it’s all I want!’. I’m not sure whether a tablet is more beneficial than a PC at preschool stage. Having just been to visit 3 primary school for the 2014 intake they’ve all got pc’s in the classrooms. It’s so hard to make a call on which technology will actually benefit them as well as giving them half an hour of fun (educational). I also think I’d rather she played with something with educational content than just pressed buttons on a Disney princess pretend laptop. Oof. No idea what to do yet, would you buy it for frog for Xmas? Xxxx

    • says

      I think tablets and PCs both offer slightly different things. Frog has a PC at pre-school and we also have a PC at home, although it’s her dad’s so she doesn’t use it. The thing I like about the LeapPad Ultra is that it can be easily transported. So, for example, she can sit in the kitchen and have a go on it while I’m cooking tea. What I also found with the LeapPad is that the games ARE educational. So, although it might look in the video like she’s just putting a pet through a pet wash on a silly game, she’s learning about numbers, hand-eye coordination moving the stylus and fine motor skills. It also covers colours and letters. There are so many different games and, from the ones we’ve tried, they all have an educational slant. As with everything though, all in moderation. I wouldn’t let her go on it for a long period of time.

  4. says

    we don’t have a leap frog but we do have another kind of tablet at home. i too was hugely surprised by the amount of educational games there are around and how good some of them are. times are changing so quickly i think tablets are part of that for children too x great review x

  5. says

    we bought kara a leap pad last year for christmas but she enjoys playing games more on my iPad. so i think she would love one of this ultra ones more. hm…maybe it is time to sell the old one…

  6. says

    I’ve never really looked into the kids tablet market as I always thought that they were overpriced when you could get an ordinary tablet for nearly the same price. Although after reading your review I can see the benefits of the LeapPad Ultra and maybe I need to think of this as a solution for Tigger next year.

  7. says

    Both my boys have been brough up on LeapFrog products and I am a blogger ambassador for them even though my boys are now a little too old for their products, I love that you can limit their access, review what they have been doing (easily). I have always limited access to electronics and feel that a something like this is OK in moderation and when mostly supervised. AT Frogs age I would rather they play with the leappad and the appropriate games you can buy for it, than an adult tablet. Both the boys use IPads and PC’s at school, so have access to technology there as well as at home. I know how much it costs to replace the screen on an ipad so would never give one to my child, but would and have given them these in the past and have gifted one to my friend for her nearly three year old this christmas. I am a big believer in everything in moderation is OK.

  8. Ghislaine Forbes says

    Everything in moderation. As long as F likes doing shows and pretend play chuck in some screen stuff too that’s fine…just NO “EASTENDERS”! love ma x

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