Christmas is right around the corner, and on your child’s Christmas list is a laptop. Yeah, back in your day, all you had was a coloring book and crayons, but this is the 21st century, things have changed, and they continue to change at a fast pace. Your child needs every advantage they can get, especially if they’re schooling remotely, and a laptop can give them that.
At the same time, parents need to remain diligent about the social and health implications of increased computer use. If you think ahead and come up with ground rules before even buying the laptop, you’ll be ready to gift the device on Christmas day and walk your child through your expectations before they dive into online fun and learning.
What to Consider Before Making Any Decisions
If you’re considering buying your kid their first laptop, you should consider a wide range of factors to guide your decision-making and shopping process. For example, you can ask yourself:
- What tasks and activities does your child need a computer for?
- What features matter most to your child? For example, if they’re artistically or musically gifted, they may care more about graphics or sound quality than anything else.
- What additional hardware or software will they need?
- How will you respect their privacy while also safeguarding them from harmful content, fraud, and viruses?
- What is your budget?
Center your decision around what your child wants. If you can get a laptop that helps them pursue their interests, it will become even more valuable. You can also consult with other parents to hear their experiences and get tips.
What Are Your Best Options?
Laptops and similar devices range from entry-level notebooks to advanced machines costing thousands of dollars. With so many options on the market, you’ll want to do your research and consider which functions and features will benefit your child the most at a reasonable cost. For example, you should weigh the following decisions:
- Which operating system does your child prefer? Apple’s macOS, Microsoft’s Windows, Google’s Chrome OS, and Linux all have their strengths and weaknesses and are better fit for different computer users.
- What size and type of screen will they need? Screen size can make some tasks simpler, such as reading, streaming videos, and visual art. For more functionality, you can opt for a laptop with a touch screen and a detachable or foldable keyboard.
- Does your child need a laptop optimized for portability? While some laptops are made for use on the go, larger and sturdier laptops are made for stationary use but often have larger screens and more computing power. Consider your kid’s lifestyle and how they will use their device to decide which suits them better.
Whether you decide to get a refurbished laptop or a brand new one, you will face the same shopping dilemmas. For a better shopping experience, keep the following tips in mind:
- Set a budget. A strict budget for a laptop and any accessories will help to narrow down your options.
- Limit your options to the purpose of the laptop. Understanding the intended activities (like education, entertainment, programming, or art) will be essential for choosing a computer.
- Create a list of necessary features your child will need and another list of not-so-important but would-be-nice-to-have features. The lists will help you prioritize and weigh your options.
- Research and compare laptops online. You will do less leg work, and you can read third-party reviews to get a sense of what other users think about each option.
- Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, walk into a physical shop and ask questions. Shop assistants are an excellent resource for information and advice.
Setting Ground Rules
A connected laptop can help your child access the world, but it also allows the world to access your child. As with all things, it’s important to set ground rules to keep your kids safe. Fortunately, software can help you limit what your child can access or download. You can determine which websites they can access and how much time they can spend online.
Be Prepared for When Things Break
All kids break things, and laptops are no exception, even for older students. Especially because many school classes are now virtual, it’s useful to have a backup plan for if their school computer breaks down.
Some basic computer fixes you can do yourself with a little research. But for more technical fixes, you can use a professional technician. Today, computer repair professionals can now fix your laptop remotely or come to your location. Get to know your options for computer repair nearby so you’re always ready to respond to a software or hardware crisis.
Fun and Function
Computers aren’t just fun—digital skills are essential in any profession. So it is a good idea to teach your child to be comfortable in front of a computer early in their life. Get them a laptop that is durable and functional, and you’ll set them up for success.