Published on October 18th, 2009 | by Mike2
Best laptops for kids – how to pick a notebook for children
There are many reasons why you would want to buy your kid a computer. Being part of our grown up lives everyday, these devices have evolved so much they can be useful for children too. They can help them learn more things easier, in an interactive way, and also give a hand in solving homework and school assignments.
However, there’s a very thin line between helping your kids by giving them a computer and destroying their future. Read the following lines and find out why and most importantly, find out what you should know in order to pick the best laptops for your kids.
From what I see around me everyday, kids these days are so different from what we were 15 years ago. They no longer read, no longer listen to stories on old vinyl records, no longer play hide and seek outside with others their own age. No, they rather stay inside, watch TV, play computer games and eat fast food junks. And this is entirely their parents’ fault.
I’m not saying you should not get a computer for your children. You should, but you have to monitor their activity on the machine and also make them a tight schedule for using computers during each day.
Assuming we’re talking about kids between 5 to 13 years old, if i were a parent, here’s what i would do:
- first, make sure the computer i get for my kid is robust and sturdy. Also, i wouldn’t go for something expensive, kids don’t need the extra power unless they plan to spend a lot of time gaming, and that’s not something i would want ;
- I’d go for a little laptop (or even a netbook), this way the computer will be more compact, lighter and easier to carry around by a kid if needed
- use a parental control software to monitor activity and block access to certain sites and applications. Internet these days is full of sickos, i wouldn’t want my kid to get in contact with anything like that
- only allow a limited number of hours on the computer each day, probably something around 2, 3 at most.
- I wouldn’t give my kid Administrator rights on the computer, thus i can only allow it to play the games or run the apps i previously acknowledge .
This might sound harsh, but i guarantee it’s for the kid’s sake and he’ll thank you later by.
Now, with the above in mind, let’s see some of the top options for laptops and notebooks for kids, available on the market these days. I divided them in three distinctive groups, once again based on age.
Laptops for 5-10 years old kids
Most important attributes I’d have in mind when picking one of these would be weight and parental control software. This way, you can go for devices built specifically for kids, like the Asus Netpal made with Disney, that is in fact a small 9 inch netbook with a personalized interface and lots of useful applications, games and learning software. You can get it in pink (for girls) or in blue (for boys) for around $330.
You ca also pick some of the regular small computers and install the required software and configure it on your own. Some good cheap options would be this 10 inch Asus netbook or this one made by Acer , plus some software like CyberPatrol Parental Controls .
First choice is definitely more time efficient, while the second one could get somewhat cheaper.
Laptops for 10 to 14 years old kids
At this age you can go for a more standard laptop. I’d go for something not too big, with decent performances, that can provide good connectivity and autonomy . That’s because at this age, kids would need the laptop for school, but also for their leisure time, when they’ll probably go online or listen to music/watch movies etc. And they might even want to play some games.
Thus, i would go for any of these options, according to your given budget:
- a cheap everyday netbook with display from 10 to 12 inches (these are the most popular at the moment) ;
- a standard 13.3 inch laptop, slightly better in terms of performance than the above, but also more expensive .
Laptops for teenagers (14+)
Last but not least, picking a laptop for your teenage boy or girl is the most difficult of all. We already know how difficult it is to satisfy a teenager anyway, this won’t be any easier. Still, I’d go for the characteristics mentioned above, but I’d emphasize more on performances and looks (teenage children like cool stuff) .
You could still pick one of the 13.3 inch laptops presented above, or go for a mainstream 15 inch one. This last option would get you something more powerful actually, for less money, but the device will be bigger and heavier.
Of course, if you can afford it, there’s also the 13 inch Macbook option. Or maybe a MacBook Pro? I’m sure your kid would love one of these, i know I still do even now, as a grown up. And you’ll definitely go for parent of the year award with such a present, that’s for sure 😛 Oh, and one more thing, teenagers like to personalize their notebooks with stickers, those too would make for a nice and cheap gift.
At this age however, I doubt you’ll still be able to install parental control software on their laptops without resulting in huge fights. They’ll always bring up their privacy rights 😛 . I guess it’s up to you as a parent to find a good compromise and convince your kids that spending too much time online or on a computer is wrong. Encouraging them to follow sports or any other outside free-time activities is probably the best way to do it, this way they won’t have too much time left for the computer. Devious, but brilliant at the same time!
You might have noticed i said nothing about computers for kids younger than 5. That’s because i can’t see any benefit from it, a kid that young has better things to do than spend time in front of a laptop or PC. Don’t you think?
In the end, these are all the best advices i could offer. I really hoped i was able to give you a helping hand in picking a proper notebook computer for your children.
Feel free to comment if you have questions or need any help, have anything to add to the post or don’t agree with some of the things I’ve said above.