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This guest post is by Zoe Cohen.
In these days of increasingly widespread electronics use and exponential advances in the tech field, modern parents are entering uncharted territory: what tech should I buy for my child? Some might even argue that the question is whether to buy children electronics at all. If so, what age? Which electronics? Should children’s usage be restricted? How much? These are all poignant questions that say a lot about our current situation as a species but, regrettably, are beyond the purview of this article.
What isn’t beyond the purview of this article is helping you figure out which main type of tech to get for your little angel! When I say “ main type of tech,” I don’t mean phones (though some might argue that they are, in fact, most people’s main device), but rather large-screened devices with computing power. In essence, the question we are addressing here is whether you should be buying your child a laptop or a tablet.
In the course of doing much research to figure out, once and for all, which one is best for children, I found myself torn in two directions. Both tablets and laptops have a lot to offer and writing an article that came down definitively on one side or the other felt disingenuous. If I were to say laptops were better for reasons X, Y, and Z, I would inevitably find an extremely compelling reason W why tablets were much better, and vice versa.
This is why I have decided to present my findings in two articles detailing when laptops or tablets are a better choice, their strengths, and their weaknesses. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
My research has shown that for young children, tablets are the way to go. There are many reasons that tablets are the optimal choice, but they can be boiled down into the following categories.
Young children aren’t great at being careful and gentle. One look at their toys can reveal their favorite by searching for the rattiest, most beat-up plaything. And granted, toys aren’t meant to be preserved or treated gently. But even so, the durability of tablets (with a good case) will go a long way to allay most parents’ nervousness over spending so much money on a single item for their young child. Laptops have buttons to be damaged and many openings that food and liquids can get into (thus irreversibly damaging the device). Plus, there’s that hinge connecting the screen and keyboard that could easily be bent too far by accident. Tablets are so flat they’re almost 2D, and they have very few buttons and openings. Those that they do have can be protected by a good case (definitely worth investing in) without compromising functionality.
Along with this line, tablets are extremely mobile. Their nearly 2D nature means that they can easily be slipped into a backpack or even a large handbag for simple transport. Their lack of a base shows that they don’t need to be balanced on a flat surface, and, in fact, are designed to be handheld (and thus used anywhere). They are small and light, especially compared with laptops. This versatility means that they are ideal for unexpected long waits (e.g., in a restaurant or waiting room) and traveling.
Tablet Ease of Use
Tablets’ touchscreen interface is extremely intuitive, allowing children to get started using these devices without having to go through an arduous learning process. Children can interact with tablets the way they interact with items in the real world – just by reaching out and touching them. This lets children get their foot in the technology door early in life, giving them valuable skills and technological fluency that will facilitate their use of tech later in life.
These are just some of the many reasons why it makes sense to choose tablets over laptops for young children. To read all about laptops and see recommendations for both categories, check out Part 2 of Should I Buy My Child a Laptop or a Tablet.