Why buy your kid a laptop?
In our world of ever-increasing technology, younger and younger children seem to be getting into high-tech toys. While cellphones were once reserved for teenagers, pre-teens and younger children are now more likely to have their own phone. Tablets have become more kid-friendly, with new tablets made specifically for children and tons of educational apps available. Even laptops have become more kid-friendly in recent years. And there are plenty of good reasons for kids to have their own laptop.
For one, parents no longer need to listen to kids complaining about sharing the family computer when the kids have their own laptops. Plus, parents can keep their computer to themselves and won’t have to worry about the kids downloading viruses or accidentally deleting important work files. Giving kids their own laptop allows them to do what they want with it, within reason.
Kids can also benefit from laptops in some crucial ways. Laptops can help kids complete homework assignments, and a laptop with an internet connection opens up an infinite amount of information for kids. As access to technology grows, the so-called “digital divide”—the gap in education and opportunity for those with access to technology and those without—is growing, too. Kids who have a laptop will know how to use technology and be able to keep up with their peers. Tech industry jobs are growing, even when there are few other opportunities for young people, and giving your kids their own laptop can help them keep up and be prepared for the future.
Best laptops for kids
ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2 in 1 Touchscreen
The ASUS Flip is an excellent choice for those looking to buy their kid a laptop. Rather than a traditional laptop, this model is what’s known as a Chromebook. The Chromebook is a hybrid between a tablet and a laptop, offering the convenience of a tablet and the power of a laptop in one device. Any Chromebook might take a little getting used to, since it runs ChromeOS and not Windows, but most kids who use smartphones will be able to figure out this ASUS Chromebook in no time.
The coolest feature of the ASUS Chromebook is the flip design. It can sit with the keyboard flat and the screen up like a regular laptop, but the screen can also flip completely backwards so it sits flat against the back of the keyboard, creating a tablet. This makes the ASUS Chromebook extremely portable, and a little more fun to use than the average laptop. Parents will love the sturdy construction of the ASUS Chromebook, too. This laptop is made of solid aluminum, making it both lightweight and harder to break if your kid drops it on the ground. With 4 GB of RAM, the ASUS Chromebook is powerful enough to browse the web and stream video with no problems.
There are a few drawbacks to the ASUS Chromebook, though most won’t bother the average kid. For one thing, the screen is roughly 10 inches, so it’s significantly smaller than most laptops. You also can’t run the full Microsoft Office suit on this device, so editing Word documents or PowerPoints is tricky. As a 2-in-1 laptop and tablet, there are other programs that this machine can’t run, either. Its small size means there’s no room for a CD/DVD drive, so you’ll have to use an external one. However, for the things most kids will use a laptop for, like browsing the Internet or typing up an essay on Google Docs, the ASUS Chromebook is perfect.
Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop
Acer CB3-131-C3SZ is less powerful than its ASUS counterpart, but also comes at a significantly cheaper price. The Acer Chromebook is a standard Chromebook, running the same ChromeOS as the ASUS version. It looks more like a traditional laptop, without the 2-in-1 functionality of the ASUS Chromebook. For worried parents, this might be ideal, as kids are less likely to carry the Acer Chromebook around the house while playing games, which can lead to all sorts of accidents.
The Acer Chromebook is definitely on the lower end when it comes to performance and power in a laptop. With only 2 GB of RAM, the Acer Chromebook isn’t the most powerful laptop available. However, the Acer Chromebook is designed to be simple, fast, and easy to use. This means it’s practically perfect for kids who just want to browse the internet or do homework. The low price point should allow parents to stress less about what might happen to the Acer Chromebook, as its hardly a major investment. For kids just getting into the world of laptop computers, the Acer Chromebook is a great choice.
HP Stream Laptop
The HP Stream is a great laptop at a decent price. This is possibly the ideal laptop for older kids. It’s not as simplistic as the Chromebook choices, but the HP Stream gives you far more options when it comes to what you can actually do with your laptop. It runs Windows 10, meaning you can use the full Microsoft Office suite with no problems, use Skype to chat with friends, and generally download and run just about any program you can think of. The limited hard drive space means kids won’t be able to download a ton of games or apps, but there should be plenty of room for most things.
The HP Stream combines function with style, with colorful options like blue and purple that pre-teens are sure to love. It comes in two different sizes—11.6 inches or 13.3 inches, making it one of the biggest budget laptops around.
There are drawbacks to the HP Stream, such as the slower processing speeds and limited hard drive space. This may make the HP Stream a bit frustrating for some kids to use, but it shouldn’t be a major issue. If your kid wants a laptop that runs Windows, allowing them to use the programs they’re likely familiar with, then the HP Stream is the best option available.
Laptops for young children
LeapFrog, My Own Laptop
LeapFrog’s My Own Laptop is fun for younger children ages 2 and up. It has a small screen and a full keyboard, with large easy-to-press buttons. Children can learn the alphabet and how to spell their own name using My Own Laptop. There are also fun learning modes that teach children animal names and include fun sing-along songs. My Own Laptop is great for 2-4 year olds just learning their ABC’s. It folds up easily and has a convenient handle for carrying. My Own Laptop has limited functionality, but it’s also very cheap and well worth the price.
VTech – Tote & Go Laptop with Web Connect
The Tote & Go Laptop is fun for kids from ages 3 to 6. It’s more advanced than LeapFrog’s My Own Laptop, offering a wider variety of educational activities, with additional activities available online. Parents can download additional activities on their PC or Mac and, using a USB cord, connect to the Tote & Go Laptop to upload the activities there. Kids will love the Net Pals activity, where they can join a pretend social network with animal friends to play with. Educational games help kids learn counting skills and the alphabet. The Tote & Go Laptop is a more expensive toy than the My Own Laptop, but is ideal for pre-school and kindergarten age kids.
Fisher-Price Fun-2-Learn Color Flash Laptop
The Fun-2-Learn Color Flash Laptop is probably the best play laptop available for children ages 3 to 6. The feature that sets this laptop apart is the color-changing screen. The small screen goes from red to green to blue, unlike many children’s laptops which are only black and white. A variety of learning modes are included, teaching children counting, ABC’s, music, and even puzzle games. The attached mouse is fun for kids and looks like a real computer mouse. The mouse comes attached to the laptop, so there’s no risk of losing it.
VTech Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook
The Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook is ideal for children who are too old for other play laptops but still too young for the real thing. Designed for ages 5 to 8, the Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook looks a lot like a real laptop, with a QWERTY keyboard that helps kids get used to typing on a real keyboard, a touchpad, and a mouse. The learning activities on the Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook are much more advanced than other play laptops that only teach the alphabet or numbers. This laptop has activities for all content areas—language arts, math, science, social studies, and even foreign languages.
What to know when choosing a laptop
When it comes to choosing a laptop for your child, there are certain things you’ll want to consider. Every child has different needs, but these are some general guidelines that will help you in selecting the best laptop for your child.
At what age should a kid get a laptop?
It’s tough to say exactly when it’s appropriate to give a kid a laptop. Laptops can be expensive, and you want to ensure your child is responsible enough to handle a laptop without damaging or breaking it. Teach your child how to care for their laptop before giving them one—show them how to plug it in without bending the cord, explain what surfaces are ideal for resting the laptop on, and emphasize how fragile the screen is.
With all this taken into consideration, 10-11 is usually an appropriate age for children to get their first laptop. Understand that they may still break or damage a laptop easily at this age, and don’t spend too much on their first laptop. Once they’ve shown that they can be responsible, upgrade them to something a little better.
What makes a good laptop for kids?
The ideal kid’s laptop is inexpensive, rugged, and still a solid, reliable machine. Thanks to advances in technology, there are more and more laptops available at an affordable price point. Chromebooks and other 2-in-1 devices are inexpensive and great for kids. Many of these are still pretty easy to break, however. If you’re concerned about your kid breaking their laptop or cracking the screen, look for a good case. Many laptop cases available today have added features like water-resistance or shock-proofing. You may also want to invest in a sleeve or carrying case, so the laptop has extra protection when your kid is transporting it.
Finally, you still want to get your kid the best available laptop. Kids are impatient and used to technology that works quickly. Many inexpensive laptops are slow or lack the power necessary for popular apps and games. Other kid-friendly laptops are actually quite powerful. Look for a laptop with a good processor and plenty of RAM (at least 4 GB) to ensure it will be able to keep up with your kid.
How can I keep my kid safe online?
One of the biggest concerns parents have when giving a kid a laptop is that their child now has unlimited access to the internet. This can be great for educational purposes, but kids can easily find things they shouldn’t or get themselves into trouble online. There are a few steps you can take to prevent this from happening.
First, talk to your kid about internet safety. Explain how viruses work and why they shouldn’t provide any personal information on a website without asking you first. Talk to them about internet pornography and other inappropriate websites. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s better than letting your kid stumble upon something without understanding what they’re seeing.
Next, make sure you have good anti-virus and parental control software. Kids can easily be tricked into clicking on, or downloading, something that contains harmful viruses. Anti-virus software will prevent this from happening and keep viruses from damaging their new laptop. There are many free or inexpensive options available. Parental control software can also be found online for free or cheap. These programs allow you to block inappropriate material. Some can even show you exactly what your kid is doing online, so you can be sure they’re safe.
A laptop is a great investment for a kid. It opens up a new world of technology and learning for them, and allows them to keep up with their peers. Making the right choices when it comes to buying a laptop and ensuring kids are safe will help you worry less about your kid and their pricey new device.