Nov 16 2012 - Computers are a major part of a child's life. They are used in education and play an important role in their adult working life. But not all computer products are geared towards the imagination or use that a child may put them through. This list provides some suggestion of computer related items that are appropriate for children who are interested or use computers on a regular basis.
Tablets are extremely easy to use such that very young kids can intuitively use them much faster than trying to deal with a regular laptop. Now, this isn't really a gift that should be strictly for a child as they aren't necessarily the most rugged of devices. The screens are particularly vulnerable to drops. Many aftermarket cases can address this issue though. Still, tablets are great learning tools thanks to the wide range of applications available. They are also great for entertainment and communications. There are a wide range of tablets with the average price with prices starting around $200 and some even feature special children's modes to limit content.
How about a budding movie director? The introduction of inexpensive flash based camcorders has opened the world of video recording to just about anyone. While there are children specific models with bright plastic available, kids really want to have items that look like something their parents would use. Samsung is a major consumer electronics manufacturer that also produces a relatively inexpensive pocket camcorder the HMX-W300. This flash based camcorder is rugged, waterproof and simple to use. This makes it a great option for kids interested in video. Priced as low as $140 up to around $150.
While motion video is great, sometimes the ability to take a still picture can be just as fun and more rewarding. With the ease of printing out digital photos and the size and performance of digital cameras, they can make a great gift. While there are child specific cameras, they tend to have poor performance and not very sturdy. Instead, I like to recommend the water and shock resistant cameras. The Olympus TG-320 is a nice option thanks to 3m water proof and 1.5m shock resistance ratings. It is relatively compact yet packs a surprisingly high 14.2 megapixel resolution. It even manages to fit a 3.6x zoom inside the body. All this in a price around $130.
Digital music players are pretty much the norm for kids these days. After all, more and more music is being sold in digital form that traditional physical formats. So why not consider giving a digital music player to your favorite child. The Apple iPod shuffle is an inexpensive, easy to use and colorful MP3 player that is great for small kids. Since it uses flash memory, the small clip based MP3 player is extremely durable. Apple's iTunes music store also has some great parental controls to prevent your kids from buying music you might find objectionable. Priced around $50.
If you want to encourage a young child's interest in art, then a product like the Genius Kids Designer II may be something to consider. This is a combination of hardware and software that allow children to use their creativity. The tablet works just like a mouse or any other drawing tablet but also comes with some built in games and educational pieces that help kids to draw. Priced around $55.
While a drawing tablet like the Kids Designer may be great for younger kids, it lacks the flexibility for art that an older child might want. A more traditional approach to arts is really needed rather than a system that is locked into a set of arts and crafts projects. Instead, older children would be better served by a low cost standard drawing tablet for the computer. The Wacom Bamboo connect which is low cost and compact. The smaller surface area may be a bit more difficult to use but it offers the same performance and flexibility of the larger Bamboo when it comes to the pen input. It does lack multitouch capability though. Priced around $100.
Got a child who is into science? Would you like to get a child interested in science? The Celestron digital handheld microscope is a great option for use with a computer. It features an handheld optical microscope that features a 10x to 40x magnification. Hook up the 2 megapixel USB camera from the computer to the microscope and use the supplied software to capture images or increase the magnification digitally to 150x. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac based computers. Priced around $70.
Let's face it, smaller kids have trouble using standard keyboards and mice. The reason is that the keys are not laid out in any alphabetical order to make it easy for them to find the proper key. They also tend to be too big to use with their smaller hands. The FunKeyBoard and FunMouse combo from Chester Creek Technologies is designed specifically with kids in mind. The mouse is smaller to fit in their smaller hands and the keyboard has color coded keys to make it easier for them to distinguish between consonants, vowels, symbols, numbers and function keys. Priced around $35.