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How to Choose the Right Tablet for Your Kid

In recent years, there's been a tremendous surge in the popularity of tablets amongst children. If you too are pondering about getting a tablet for your child, this Buzzle article should be able to help you along.
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Things to consider when buying a tablet for your kid
The New Tablet Generation
According to a report by media watchdog Ofcom, about 42% of children under the age of 15 use a tablet.
I remember a time when no joy on Earth could quite match up to the absolute ecstasy of a child getting his/her first GI Joe figurine or Barbie doll. These gifts didn't cost you half your paycheck and easily bought that heart-melting smile on the face of your child. Times sure have changed since then!

Today, you could spend endless hours at the toy store and still not quite be able to decide on what the perfect gift for your child would be. Just the other day, I asked my 8-year-old nephew what Santa brought him for Christmas this year, and he promptly answered, an iPad! For some reason though, he still had a long face on. A little probing made me realize that he was not all too impressed by the last-gen tablet and was hopeful that Santa would get him the latest model rather than the 'li'l lump of coal'. I've been following the latest trends in technology since donkey's years now (or so it seems), but I must admit that I was caught unawares by just how young the latest breed of gadgetophiles are.

Tablets are probably the most popular and also the most preferred gadget amongst children and parents alike. This is mainly because tablets serve as an ideal platform for all your child's infotainment needs. Also, the software on a tablet makes it highly customizable, and gives you better parental control on the device. So, just how old does your child need to be before you get him a tablet? And just what kind of a tablet would be right for him? Here's taking a look.

Age

There's no better judge than you.
We'd say that if you really want to buy your child a tablet, the ideal age would be about 8 - 15 years. This is mainly because, by then, most children have a basic sense of responsibility and can handle technology better. Of course, this is very subjective, and you would be the best judge of whether or not your child really is ready for a tablet.

Hardware

Size most definitely matters.
Probably the first thing you would notice about a tablet is that it is significantly larger than a regular smartphone. A large screen would mean more room for games and apps to play on. It also means lesser strain on the eyes. You might, however, want to make sure that you don't go overboard with the screen size. You don't want a smartphone, but then again, you don't want a small LED TV on your hands either. 7 - 10 inches is about the perfect size for a tablet, making it just right to hold with ample screen real estate. Weight is another factor that you need to consider, although more than the weight itself, it is how this weight is distributed across the tablet that matters. The center of gravity of the device should be just right, which means, it shouldn't be too top heavy or too loaded toward the bottom. Considering the fact that your child is the end user, having a tablet with a solid construction and good grip is essential.

Software

Don't over spec-ulate.

Manufacturers tend to promote their many, unique, feature-rich tablets. In reality though, most of these features are rather gimmicky and don't really make a lot of practical sense. Talks about superfast processors and loads of RAMs are merely publicity stunts and should not hamper the tablet experience by much. In fact, the software on the tablet is customized to run smoothly on its hardware. Almost all the tablets in the market today are really good, and talks about one being 'n' times faster than the other are simply marketing strategies employed by manufacturers to boost their sales. When buying a tablet for your child, don't look too much into the numbers. By today's standard, a basic tablet (dual-core with about 1 GB of RAM) should be good enough to serve the purpose. It would, however, be a good idea to go in for a tablet that offers a Micro SD card slot, or one that has ample internal storage (16 GB+) for all your kid's videos and apps. Most tablets also support GSM networks. This could either be for making voice calls or for data connections. You would be well advised to choose a device that supports Wi-Fi, rather than opt for a data plan, as the latter is often very expensive. Also, as tablets aren't really ideal for making phone calls, you could very well overlook the GSM variants altogether.

Camera

To click or not to click!
One of the major selling points for manufacturers are the cameras on their devices. Once again, remember that the end user of the tablet is a child, and megapixels are just a fancy word to them and for that matter, to most regular users. Kids love to explore their surroundings and are rather fascinated by the thought of capturing images on the go. A tablet with a basic camera (2 - 5 MP) should be able to suffice all your child's photography needs. Also, remember that the front-facing camera is mainly meant for making video calls and the occasional selfie. So, unless your child is a selfie king/queen, or uses video conferencing to pitch their latest product, the secondary camera should not be something that should affect your decision at all.

Brand Name

What's in the name? Everything.
Now, really, this is a catch 22 situation. Opting for a branded device almost certainly guarantees a great product. It also ensures better service, in case you run into any problems with the tablet. These, however, are bound to be a lot more expensive that the offerings from lesser-known tablet brands. These poorer siblings of the big guns of the tablet industry, tend to price their products very low and claim to offer similar or at times, better specs than that on branded devices. You might want to tread carefully here though, as these brands are infamous for under delivering on their promises. Also, these often ship without some important software like Google Play Store installed. This could greatly cripple the use of the tablet, as without this, it would be rather difficult to find and install apps for the device. More than the hardware aging fast, tablets are plagued with the problem of the software getting outdated quickly. The major advantage of buying a branded tablet is that you are assured of getting timely software updates at least for about a year. Also, it is a lot easier to get supported accessories and apps customized for these tablets. This should drastically increase the longevity of the device, and in turn, keep your child happier for longer.

Tablets can be a fun way to learn new things, and get your child acquainted with the virtual world. This, however, is a double-edged sword, as this could also expose them to a lot of dangers lurking on the Internet.

Here are a few things to remember once you've bought a tablet.
  • Install a good antivirus and firewall on the device to keep it secure from malicious viruses.
  • Install a parental control software to keep unwanted content away from the reach of your child.
  • Update the software regularly.
  • Occasionally and very discretely, check through your child's tablet.
Here are some of the best tablets for kids available in the market today.
  • Nexus 7
  • iPad Mini
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition
  • Coby MID7065
  • PlayMG MG
Tablets, with their treasure trove of apps, can serve as an excellent medium to discover and hone the hidden talents of your child. A good sensible purchase should ensure that your child has a trusty companion by his side always to help unleash his creativity. Cheers.
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Published: January 2, 2014
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