my dd1 wants a DS for her birthday. Not entirely sure what one is or does, but understand thta they are used for playing computer games. And some do other stuff too- like take photos? they seem to range in price from £25 on Ebay to £150ish in shops. dont have enough time or much inclination to look into the subject of 'DSs' in great detail I'm pretty skint- what should i get her?
There are lots of educational games, Superscribble naughts, brain training, Art academy etc. They are great for long journeys. I would recommend the ds lite. You can also buy the R4 card which contains lots of games for a fraction of the price.
My ds1 got one for his 3rd or 4th bday, can't remember which. He had a phase where hr was huffy when he was asked to stop playing, but it works well when they know it's a reward to play it, not a god given right.
Personally, I'd go for a DSi (not the XL version). DD is 5 and I bought her one to replace the DSLite that broke (she'd had it a year and Game refused to accept my proof of purchase but that's another story ) She has had so much fun with the camera bit and messing about with the photo editing stuff - all without reading the manual given she can't read well enough for that yet!
Hers was £90 from game.co.uk with no games (we had those already) and was cheaper than in the game stores.
DS1 got a DSLite for his 5th birthday. DSLite is perfectly adequate at that age (although he hasn't tried a DSi, so I don't know how much extra fun that is).
I think even non-educational games can be educational. He's currently playing Lego Harry Potter which requires a reasonable amount of problem solving and relatively little of justing blasting enemies. As long as you ration it if you need to (we do need to) so that they're running around and playing sociably as well, I think they're fine.
I would get the dsi - my youngest aged 6 has had hers since christmas and it is brilliant for long journeys or dentists waiting rooms. It has extra features over the ds lite (ds lite is an older version) where you can record sounds and take pictures and do funny things to them. She has had so much entertainment out of this. (We have had all versions of ds and gameboys over the years) There is no reason why she should get addicted to it. It's not that difficult to take it off a 6 year old. Asda are doing it for £85 direct.asda.com/Nintendo-DSi-Black-Games-Console/003765157,default,pd.html?purl=hotukdeals
I'd recommend DSi also. My DDs have DS Lite with several years, and would prefer the DSi, as they have great fun with the camera feature when playing with their friends DSIs.
My DDs got their DSs 3 years ago when they were 4 and 6, and have had great fun with them. Occasionally, I have to insist they take a break from them, but generally they will play for a while and stop of their own accord. Also, they will go phases where they use them a lot, and then other phases where they do not use them at all. They are fantastic way to pass time on car or plane journeys, or in Dr/Dentist waiting room, or whenever you needs the kids to 'kill time'. We've got fantastic values from our DSs.
Oh - and I use threat of taking away DS as a consequence for bad behaviour. Not a consequence that are not willing to incur, so just the threat of removing it is sufficient.