When it comes to technology and kids, I’ve always been a big fan of incorporating fun into learning. I really believe that learning does not have to be boring or painful, and in fact technology geared toward kids can make it exciting and a fun process. I think today’s tablets are an excellent example of just that – technology that is both educational and entertaining for kids.
There are two main groups of tablets available today – those geared solely to children like the Leap Frog LeapPad Explorer and VTech InnoTab, and those that are considered more mainstream such as the Apple iPad, the Blackberry Playbook, the Motorola XOOM and now the HP Touchpad.
When it comes to technology and kids and buying a tablet, there are many things you need to consider, including:
- The user
- Availability of apps/games
- Additional Media options (camera/video)
Technology and Kids: The Tablet User
I think the younger the child, the more durable the tablet needs to be, especially if you want them to use it independently. Both the LeapPad and InnoTab, geared towards the 4-9 year old set, are made to be easy to hold, and extremely durable, so dropping either wouldn’t be the end of the tablet. With mainstream tablets like the iPad, Playbook, XOOM and Touchpad that are primarily designed for an adult audience and are much more sensitive to breakage, protecting them in a rugged case would be an absolute must. Other things to consider is the tablet’s size and weight. It is easy for smaller hands to hold? Is it heavy and combersome to manoeuvre? One of the benefits of tablets is the larger surface area, making it easier for stubby little fingers to interact with programs much easier than standard smartphone screens.
Technology and Kids: The Tablet Apps
What about games and apps available? Mainstream tablets like the iPad, Playbook, Touchpad and XOOM offer hundreds of available apps that can be downloaded to the tablet – some free and some not. The range of availability is really amazing, from games to books, to learning apps – it is endless. The more child-oriented tablets like the LeapPad and InnoTab have cartridges and downloadable apps can be purchased, however, the quantity is less. The apps on the tablets for kids are geared toward 4-9 year olds, whereas the mainstream tablets offer apps and games for all ages.
Technology and Kids: Beyond Tablet Apps
What about function? When it comes to technology and kids, what can these kid tablets do? From cameras and video players, to ebook readers and music players, tablets offer so many possibilities. For those tablets geared toward kids, they work with a tilt sensor and have 5” touch screens, so even the littlest hands can use them successfully.
Technology and Kids: The Best Tablet for You
Bottom line, when deciding what type of tablet best suits your younger child, determine who will ultimately use it. If it’s solely for the child, then a LeapPad or InnoTab is definitely the way to go. With prices at approximately $99 – $109, they are a fun way to learn and play, special to the child. The mainstream tablets like the iPad, Playbook, Touchpad and XOOM are obviously much pricier, starting from $499, but can be used and enjoyed by the entire family.
It’s clear that there are several things to think about when contemplating the purchase of a kid’s tablet. Regardless of which you ultimately choose, tablets are a great tool for learning in a fun and positive way.