The decision of whether (and when) to purchase a smartphone for your child is fraught with concerns about responsibility, online safety, and more. The same is true when it comes to purchasing a home.
, with one notable exception: many elementary and middle schools consider them essential educational tools and provide machines to their students in their classrooms. Other schools require parents to buy laptop computers and provide a list of recommended models.
As a result, whether you like it or not, your child may need to use a laptop at school or for school, especially in these uncertain times when distance learning may be required. Regardless, they will almost certainly want to use that computer at home as well, both for entertainment (messaging their friends, watching videos, etc.) and for educational purposes.
playing Fortnite) and homework (looking up information, typing book reports).
Parental controls, durable plastic, and water-resistant keyboards should all be considered. Buying a kid-friendly laptop doesn’t have to be expensive—all of our recommended models are under $700, and the majority are under $500—and the even better news is that just because they’re cheap doesn’t mean they’re slow or poorly built. At the very least, you won’t have to be concerned about the cost. The list of factors to consider doesn’t end there, because kids are kids.
If your child is a university student, take a look at our list of resources. Here, we’re concentrating on the younger children. best laptops for college studentsThere are even more options in our overall roundup of the .. best budget laptops. Also check our top picks for the best Chromebooks for kids for more information on Chrome OS concerns and educational aspects, particularly for younger students.
We’ll go over that in more detail near the end of the article, but keep in mind that gaming machines are more expensive than our other recommendations. If your child is of the age where they want to play PC games on the same machine that they’ll use for schoolwork, you’ll have to think about a different set of issues.
Which Operating System Is Best?
Before you start looking at features, you’ll need to answer the question that has plagued PC buyers for decades: Which operating system should I get?
The MacBook Air, Apple’s most affordable notebook, starts at $999 and is still too expensive for a student in elementary or middle school. This isn’t your typical Mac vs. Windows debate. New Apple laptops aren’t even close to being available for less than $500. If you’re an Apple fan and want to raise your child to be one as well, it’s best to give them a hand-me-down and treat yourself to a new MacBook or MacBook Pro.
Chrome OS can run web apps in addition to web apps in the Chrome browser. Aside from repurposed Macs, most parents will choose between Windows 10 and Google’s Chrome OS. run apps from the Google Play store designed for Android smartphones and tablets, including Microsoft OfficeIf you’ve decided against purchasing a smartphone for your children but they insist on playing mobile games, a Chromebook could be a good compromise. ..
Windows 10You can easily upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 to remove these restrictions as your child grows older and more responsible. Windows 10 S Mode, which is aimed at the education market and, among other security enhancements, prevents apps from being installed unless they’re available on the Microsoft Store, has also made it more useful as an operating system for kid-friendly laptops. This means you can block games and apps based on their content ratings (which you can do with Google Play apps as well). By no means is Windows 10 S the norm, but you might come across it as an operating system option when looking at laptops in this class.
If your child’s school requires Windows-only software, your operating system selection will be made for you. Check out the list once more. If not, you’ll want to look into Chrome OS, as some Chromebooks come with kid-friendly features like easy-grip coatings and display lids that double as whiteboards. Chromebooks-for-kids story For more information on the specifics of this OS, see the link provided earlier.
Built for Backpacks: Assessing Ruggedness
These are the features that turn an ordinary cheap laptop into a school-friendly machine that kids won’t outgrow or destroy in a matter of months. Possibly the most important factor is the case’s durability.
Spill-resistant keyboards are available on a few Chromebooks and low-cost Windows laptops, which means they should survive splashing with an ounce or so of water without damage. It’s much more difficult to find completely waterproof laptops; rugged ones that are Similarly, while it’s relatively easy to find rubberized lids or cases to help absorb drops from a few feet, fully ruggedized machines aren’t available in this price range. (Models like Panasonic’s Toughbook line or Dell’s Latitude Rugged Extremes) typically cost several thousand dollars and are aimed at workers in outdoor or shop-floor occupations rather than children.
If your child weighs more than 3 pounds, you’re putting a lot of strain on his or her shoulders. The majority of laptops in this category, which have screens ranging from 11 to 13 inches, weigh around 2.5 pounds. Another major concern is portability, particularly for middle- and high-school students who walk to school with backpacks laden with heavy textbooks.
Because of their power-saving Intel processors, even some of the cheapest laptops now have battery rundown times of around 10 hours on PCMag’s battery rundown test. Battery life is important, but it’s no longer the limiting factor that rendered laptops obsolete if they were left unplugged for more than a few hours a decade ago.
What Specs Should My Child’s Laptop Have?
(The exception is AMD’s Ryzen C series chips, which are much faster AMD processors designed specifically for Chromebooks.) These are the cheapest laptops with the lowest performance. The final factor to consider is how your children will use the laptop, as this will influence the processor, storage, and memory configurations you choose. Taking notes, writing papers, and creating PowerPoint slides require very little processing power, so an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor will suffice; a few budget Chromebook models now also use AMD or MediaTek mobile processors.
An Intel Core i3 is the next step up, which you should consider if your children’s teachers require them to watch online educational videos on a regular basis. An is aIntel Core i5 or i7is nearly impossible to come across on a $300 laptop or Chromebook.
If you want your kids to be able to stream videos, you might want to consider a 2-in-1 convertible or detachable laptop, which can be used as a tablet thanks to a 360-degree rotating hinge or a screen that detaches completely from the keyboard base. The majority of hybrids and convertibles are more expensive than the price ranges we’ve discussed so far, but there are a few high-quality models available for under $500. Because these machines are less durable than a traditional laptop, they are best for children in middle school or older.
A common minimum configuration for memory and storage is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of flash memory. The former (memory) amount is sufficient in a low-cost Chromebook but insufficient in a Windows 10 machine; 8GB is the best starting point for anything that runs Windows. Because the operating system files on a Windows 10 PC can take up more than 20GB, leaving your child with only 40GB or so of built-in storage, you should definitely consider upgrading the storage capacity to 128GB.
In the latter case, you could stick with the default settings and ask your children to store their larger files on SD cards, which are available in 32GB capacities for around $20 each. (With the exception of a few older models, hard drives have all but vanished from Chromebooks.) The only exception is if you choose a laptop with a larger but slower (and more easily broken) spinning hard drive or an SD card reader built-in.
Time for Fun: What About Graphics and Games?
For example, Microsoft’s hugely popular open-world construction game has an educational version. Just because you’re choosing between relatively slow processors and limited memory capacities doesn’t rule out gaming once your child has completed his or her schoolwork. Of course, some games are even educational. MinecraftStudents can use it to research real-world history such as the Oregon Trail, solve math problems as they learn about how long and difficult the trail was, research fur-trading companies to learn about economic concepts such as monopolies and supply and demand, and much more. ..
If your child intends to engage in more intensive gaming, you’ll need to upgrade the power and price to a full-fledged console. Minecraft and other similar games will run on Core i3 systems with as little as 4GB of RAM, but if your child is looking forward to playing them, choosing a laptop with 8GB will make the experience much more enjoyable.gaming laptop or gaming desktopLaptops with a dedicated graphics chip, such as the GeForce GTX, GeForce RTX, or Radeon RX, will be called GeForce GTX, GeForce RTX, or Radeon RX. ..
However, machines with game-worthy GeForce or Radeon dedicated graphics chips start at around $750 to $800, and prices quickly rise as you add features and power. Most kids, however, will be content with a model that costs less than $1,000. Current-generation gaming laptops aren’t available for less than $700. See our guide to budget gaming machines.)
Which Laptop Should I Purchase for My Child?
Chromebooks and Windows laptops, fortunately, both have Giving your child a laptop provides them with access to the vastly powerful internet, even if the laptop isn’t the most powerful you can find. It is your responsibility (and that of your children’s teachers) to ensure that the tool is not harmful. parental control features, and the size of a laptop compared to a smartphone makes it easier to keep track of activity and establish ground rules such as not using the computer until homework is completed.