The thought of having a laptop — or even a cell phone! — was unbelievable when I was in high school, but now a portable computer is a necessity for students of nearly any age.
Here are the top 5 things to look for when buying a laptop for your child.
We may have all needed extra notebooks and mechanical pencils when we were kids, but these days homework is increasingly done in digital mediums.
But with so many options available, how do you pick the right device that offers the features you need — like parental controls — and will actually survive regular use by a toddler or teenager?
We can show you exactly what to look for in 5 easy steps, whether you want your child to type up a paper at home or just need a portable device to put on an emergency episode of PJ Masks to stave off a restaurant meltdown.
Look For Spill Proof Keyboards And Rubberized Edges
We all know that accidents happen, but with kids around, accidents tend to happen much more frequently.
Particularly with the toddlers or younger kids just starting their school careers, you really don’t want to spend a bunch of money on expensive electronics that will be dropped or get soaked when a cup is knocked over.
There’s an easy workaround for clumsy fingers — just look for models labeled with these keywords in the names:
- Spill Resistant
Essentially, these laptops take the concept of your phone’s carrying case and work those damage-resistant features directly into the chassis.
By tweaking the keyboard design and adding rubber edges, you can easily avoid water damage or even end up with a portable computer that can survive repeated falls off the countertop.
Nearly every manufacturer and a brand has some kind of laptop designed with more durability in mind.
Take Portability Into Account
In general, all laptops are designed for portability, but some models are significantly thinner, lighter, and smaller than others.
That’s great for kids who don’t want to lug around a 6-pound laptop with a 17-inch screen, but this isn’t just an issue of hearing your child complain about carrying around a heavy device,
More important than weight is the issue of keyboard spacing. While 11-inch ultrabooks or slim 13-inch laptops may be slightly cramped for adult fingers, they are excellent choices for younger kids just learning the ropes.
The Dell Inspiron can be found in 11-inch versions, while the Asus ZenBook defaults to a compact 13-inch design.
Pick A Simple OS With Less Opportunity For Malware
Based on what’s available at the average big box store electronics display, your operating system choices seem to always boil down to Windows 10 or the Mac OS, but there are actually other options if you do a little shopping around.
For instance, did you know Windows 10 comes in an enhanced security version called S Mode? The S Mode version of Windows is perfect for younger kids and is specifically meant for education-focused devices.
What exactly does it do differently?
The Windows edition only allows kids to download certified apps from the Windows store. That means they can’t manually install programs from executable files downloaded off the web, for instance.
With that feature enabled, the opportunity to accidentally download malware is cut drastically, and your kids can’t spend time playing Steam games.
When your child is ready to bump up to the full Home version of Windows 10, it isn’t hard to upgrade. Best of all? It’s totally free to switch from S Mode to Home.
If that option isn’t appealing, you can always ditch Windows entirely and pick a Chromebook instead.
Aimed at web browsing and typing up word documents. Chromebooks tend to be much cheaper than a full Windows laptop, but they also feature another major advantage — built-in parental controls.
By creating a supervised user account for your kid, you can easily keep track of web browsing history and even blacklist certain sites from being viewed at all.
Find A Hybrid Model
An unbelievable number of options are available for hybrid 2-in-1 machines these days. Hybrids are labeled as “convertible,” “detachable,” or “360” models.
They don’t just look cool, but also offer a huge advantage for kids. Since they rotate around fully, these models won’t break if an overzealous kid pushes the screen back too far.
If you want to save a whole lot of money, picking a rugged hybrid is a must. Hybrids are great especially for the toddlers just getting started using computers.
Consider Going With A Tablet Instead
In many cases, a full clamshell laptop with Windows 10 may be overkill for young kids. They don’t typically need all those features. With so many hinges and screws, it’s easy for an expensive notebook to get broken quickly.
A tablet, on the other hand, is less of an up-front investment. So it won’t sting as much if your child loses the device or accidentally cracks the screen.
Rugged, durable cases are cheaply available for tablets as well! Durable cases will protect if it’s dropped or gets wet after a juice box spill.
You don’t really lose out on much by picking an Android or Apple tablet either. There are plenty of educational apps and games to keep the little ones entertained.
Any parent can easily download the YouTube or Netflix apps. These are nice if your goal is to keep toddlers calm while watching their favorite shows. Or older kids can grab word processing or photo editing tools for classes.
Finding The Right Laptop For Your Kiddos
With these five simple tips in mind, picking the perfect portable device for your family should be a snap!
What features are you most looking for in a laptop for your child? As well as did we miss any tips that should have made our list? Sound off and let us know how you shop for kid electronics in the comments below!
About Author: After more than a decade of working the tech industry, from building gaming rigs to tracking the latest software trends, Ty Arthur knows a thing or two about staying afloat in an increasingly complicated world. He’d like to share that knowledge with all of you through his work at PortableMonkey.com, where his writing focuses on finding the perfect solutions for any kind of computer user.