It’s back to school and many parents are left scratching their heads trying to find the best technology to help with their children’s education and learning. Here are a few pointers to help smooth over any potential headaches.
Many schools throughout the country are embracing technology like tablets and the associated benefits of the digital age. But for some, it is still quite unnerving to say goodbye to traditional handbooks and embrace everything in electronic format. Without sounding too Borg-like, resistance seems to be futile. In fact, learners are embracing a medium they have grown comfortable with given the growth of digital music and video, games, apps, and instant messaging. Even at an early age, children these days are comfortable with tablets – with many of them learning the basics as young as 2 – 3 years of age.
“A great example of this is the ClickTab Kids,” says Faryal Sacoor, Merchandising Buying Manager at Incredible Connection. “This 7” 3G enabled tablet caters specifically for children between the ages of 3 and 10 years. The tablet comes pre-loaded with over 25 Apps and age appropriate Games for children with access to an App store with hundreds more. The unit also comes fitted with a durable silicone rubber sleeve built to absorb drops and falls. Most importantly, is the built in parental controls that allow parents to limit the time that children can spend on the tablets, the time of day that play is allowed and even WhatsApp and games they can have access to. Parents can even set up profiles for different children of different ages and manage each child’s profile separately.”
For your older kid there is the other tablet options with features such as voice calling, dual sim, FM radio and 3G embedded to name a few. And in addition to a tablet, instead of relying on fingers that can very easily get dirty, consider buying a stylus. It helps with the transition from pen and paper to the screen and also enables really fine work for creative types who love drawing on their tablets. This makes a great birthday gift as well because it is so cost-effective and there are a number of colours and styles available.
But tablets aside, what else is there in the gadget world that can benefit children and their parents that does not necessarily cost an arm and a leg?
In the rush to get the biggest and fastest tablet, the humble e-reader such as the Kindle is often neglected. Yet, there is something to be said for reading on a display that is designed to be as natural to the printed paper as possible. Factor in amazing storage and incredible battery life that potentially spans weeks and you have a more than functional device for the avid bookworm. What’s more – there are so many e-reader versions and options available that not only will you find one that meets your requirements and budget but can be used for the whole family. It’s great for older children as they start to read and immerse themselves in a fantasy land, but it’s also great for you, as a parent for story time and that occasional ‘me’ time – as content is widely available to suit all tastes.
While it might seem counterintuitive to rush out and buy a mouse in a touch-focused world, the majority of laptops and desktops still require this integral piece of equipment. But unlike another famous quote, a mouse is not just a mouse. Parents should consider a wireless model with rechargeable batteries and a high sensitivity. The latter is not only great for those design programmes but also come in quite handy during the odd online gaming skirmish.
Another great gadget to consider is a fitness band like the Fitbit for example. Being active is vital to children growing up and this handy little device is a great way to motivate you and keep track of fitness goals which can then be incorporated where relevant across the family – ensuring that you have fun and exercise with your kids. There are a variety of fitness bands available on the market today are really great for basic use and most of them work very well in practise. In the end, your buying decision needs to be based around comfort and aesthetics.
Of course, parents also should never lose sight of safety and security. This means for whatever technology you choose an anti-virus or internet security programme is a must. Most feature parental controls to help with internet monitoring as well as time restrictions when it comes to surfing the internet or playing games. Fortunately, many of the more well-known solutions come with multiple licenses so parents can install them on a tablet, laptop, and smartphone without any hassles.
And of course you don’t want the hassle if something goes wrong with your products – so make sure you check warranties and return policies. Choose a technology outlet that offers a no-nonsense warranty 1 year swop out and even better, if they have a rental option or trade in option where you can bring in your old tech and get a great deal on new models then even better!
Technology is a great aid for children and parents alike. While it might be intimidating at times, using the internet for research or asking staff at a retail outlet for advice and assistance should make the transition that much easier to ensure you get a fun and educational device for kids, but is also safe and provides peace of mind for mom and dad.