Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
While technology may not have been an integral part of your childhood, it’s part of the very fabric of growing up these days. In fact, some gadgets are so ingrained in our lives that they’re now the de facto gifts for certain birthdays, holidays and bar mitzvahs. Here’s a look at the essential technology and gadgets every child should own.
Home Computer – Every house should have at least one computer, and most now have at least two. Teachers have come to expect computers and internet access at home for all children, assigning homework and class project for kids. Note though that kids don’t necessarily need their own computers. In fact, experts still recommend that kids’ computer usage be kept on systems that are housed in common areas of the house, even if they’re on laptops. There’s nothing kids should be doing on computers that needs to be kept private from the rest of the family.
Tablet PC or Touch Device – With computers now a given, the focus now turns to tablets and other touch devices as to whether they are “must-owns” or “nice-to-haves.” Most educational school computer programs work on tablets, and they’re extremely portable and convenient to take on family trips or outings, whether it’s vacation or a local restaurant.
At the very least, we think kids need access to their family’s tablet device, and it’s up to parents to decide whether they need one for themselves. Kids will want to use them to play games, so make sure that you’ve locked down the ability to purchase apps and regulate connections.
eBooks Readers – While there’s still something satisfying about physical books, kids can access literal libraries of information from their fingertips with eBook readers, and it’s the same content you remember from growing up. There are even library subscriptions which allow kids to check out books on their eReaders. Most parents would greatly prefer their kids read book instead of goof off playing games or chatting, so why not get them a device that lets them enjoy books the way they want.
Portable Hard Drive – With so much schoolwork being done on computers, it’s important to save it and back it up, so a portable hard drive will help kids keep all their files, even if they’re working on many different computers. It’s also a good way to make sure that data stays safe and secure even if a computer gets lost or stolen.
USB Drive – While portable hard drives are big and bulky, USB drives are simple and compact way for kids to share and transport information. Consider a keychain USB device so it’s always with them, and they can use it for important documents, personalized information or even sharing pictures. USB Flash drives make it simple to switch data from computer to computer.
Smart Phone – We saved the best and most controversial for last. Although kids around the age of 13 don’t necessarily need full function smart phones, as they get older and progress through high school, the functionality of the device will become extremely useful for them. Realistically, kids don’t need all the bells and whistles smartphones offer, parents who trust their kids to use these devices properly will rest easier knowing they have map functionality and Internet access at their fingertips. To be clear, we don’t recommend this for young teens, but as kids get ready for college, smart phones certainly make a lot of sense.