I remember about a year ago, I was watching a family friend’s kids for the night. I put on a movie for them after dinner, and while they were occupied, decided to get on my laptop and check my email. When I turned on my laptop, everything suddenly froze, and I freaked out, thinking that my computer might be on its last leg (after this happening numerous times). Not only did I have a big assignment coming up that I needed my computer for, but everything I ever wrote during my college career was on that laptop. The kids noticed I was worried about something, and to my complete surprise, when I told them what was happening, one of the boys took my computer for me, got it running again, and then gave me detailed instructions on what sort of software to download in order to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. The boy was 10 years old.
While not every child is as tech-savvy as he was, most kids are more than familiar with technology and something techy is probably on their holiday wish list. In fact, according to a Toshiba survey conducted with Opinions Solutions, Inc., about 74% of parents reported that their kids requested “gadgets” for the holidays. So if your child wants to keep up with all his or her teched-out friends, you should know what options are out there that are safe and easy for both you and your child to use!
To start out, expert Elizabeth Tarpley from MyTechStart.com says, believe it or not, one of the simplest options for kids is the iPad or the iPhone (if it's in your budget). They are great for getting your child acquainted with technology, while still being able to maintain a firm grip on what they can and can’t do. Especially for really young children, the iPhone and iPad have lots of applications for kids, which can provide fun and easy entertainment for a long car ride or a wait in the doctor’s office. Apps range from “Alphabet Fun” to comic books, so children of all ages can enjoy them! For more information about age-appropriate apps for iPads and iPhones, check out http://www.apple.com/. On the site, you can even find security information, to make sure that your little one doesn’t stumble upon anything they shouldn’t!
For a more traditional computer,Tarpley recommends buying a standard machine and monitor, and making it more kid friendly from there. “The machine should be web enabled,” she says, “have a fast processor and great graphics capability.” Of course, you’ll have to have some sort of protection on your kid’s computer, and Tarpley says Net Nanny (netnanny.com) is considered one of the best on the market. Once you have your standard computer protected, you can purchase fun, kid-friendly add-ons, like the Fisher Price Cool School Keyboard. Tarpley’s company has also developed the myPC Stage I Keyboard™, which is a colorful, spill-proof keyboard designed specifically for children’s learning needs.
Another option is Toshiba’s new PC for kids, the Satellite L635. I spoke to Kelly Landers from Toshiba, who said that it is “a full-sized laptop, made for children aged 5 to 10, that provides a suite of entertainment and education software and allows parents to help ensure their children are staying safe on the Web.” Toshiba worked in collaboration with Best Buy to develop this new product, and Best Buy is the only store where you can find it. According to Landers, “The laptop comes pre-loaded with KidZui, an Internet Brower made for children, as well as Net Nanny…a Lego Batman game and two Disney full-length movies, The Princess and the Frog and Toy Story 2.
What do you prefer for your kids and what are your favorite kid computers?