This holiday season, one the most popular gadgets for kids is a tablet. In the UK, 24% of kids under 16 are asking for a tablet. Here in the US, there has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablets for families with children under 8 years old. If your child has a tablet on their list or you are tired of sharing yours, I discovered some great resources on how to choose a kid friendly tablet.
There are so many tablet options. Do you get a tablet specifically designed for kids? Do you go with a family tablet? Do you want your child to be able to take photos? Do you want internet access? To answer all these questions, start with the Kid’s Tablet Guide 2013 from the Ireland Technology Blog. This article does a nice job of breaking down all the options available and what to look for when buying a tablet.
Once you decide on what you need, the next stop is Kid Tablets with wifi. This site reviews and compares different tablets for kids and families. Basically, your choices for tablets come in 3 categories: Learning Tablets, Kid Tablets and Family Tablets.
Learning Tablets (ages 2-6)
Learning tablets have a close system that only allows educational games and apps. According to PCadvisor, the two main kids’ learning tablets are Leapfrog’s LeapPad and VTech’s InnoTab. These tablets are great for younger kids. Kids can only download age appropriate content from the Leapfrog or VTech store. So, parents do not need to worry about them stumbling upon a YouTube video of Elmo swearing. Both of these tablets are cheaper than most but their apps are more expensive. Both received 4 out of 5 stars on Toys R Us and Amazon. If you cannot decide between the two, Kids Tablets with wi-fi has a side by side comparison. Continue reading
I will admit that when our eldest got a phone we did not think too deeply about it. She was babysitting and participating in more after school activities and we wanted her to be able to contact us. We knew she would use it to text her friends, but we didn’t think that was a big deal. Now a few years a later, we have another child entering middle school and this time around we are not as cavalier about getting her a phone.
There are days I love the phone and days I wonder why she has it. I love that she can call if she needs a ride or has a problem and I can reach her if there is a change.I am more comfortable letting her venture out knowing she has a phone. All of this connection can also lead to disconnection. She is on her phone a lot. Some days, I swear she never looks up and it is a constant battle to limit time. We also struggle with how much to monitor her use. It is hard to guide her if we don’t know what she is doing on her phone. We want to make sure she is using her phone responsibly but we don’t want to read every text.
Before buying a phone, parents and kids should discuss time and use. Ultimately, whether a kid is ready for a phone depends a lot on them and you. Some questions to think about are:
- How responsible are they with their current devices?
- How well are they doing with time management?
- Are they managing friendships well in the real world?
- Are you ready as a parent to manage and guide their use?
If you decide it is time for a phone, remember a phone and internet can be separated and introduced at different ages. Your 6th grader may need a phone to get picked up at school. It doesn’t mean they need internet access. Contrary to what they may tell you, not everyone has a smartphone.
Privacy and security go hand in hand. This is especially true with a kid’s mobile phone. Their phone contains lots of personal information that anyone who has access to it can see. In order to keep their information private, kids need to keep their device secure. With kids, the two big security issues are losing their phone or downloading a bad app.
According to Lookout, 30 billion phones are lost a year. In Seattle, we lose our phones on average twice a year. So far, my kids have not lost of device although one did go through the washer and dryer. But, at some point someone is going to lose a phone. Anyone who finds their phone will have access to their information such as contacts, pictures and messages as well as their open accounts such as Twitter, or Facebook.
The other threat kids may encounter is downloading a bad app. A report by McAfee found 1 in 6 mobile apps contain malware or spyware. Kids who love to download apps may end up with one of these characters. These malicious apps can do anything from sending annoying pop up ads to stealing personal information.
To protect privacy, make sure your kids are implementing these simple security tips. Continue reading