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Computers, Laptops, Notebooks

 

Should I Buy a Computer for My Child?

Source: City of San Diego, Public Library

Educators generally agree that children who have computers at home are more likely to be technologically literate than children who do not. If your family can afford a computer, you can buy one confident that it is a smart investment in your child's education. If, however, purchasing a computer would cause financial hardship for you, then don't do it (and don't feel bad about not doing it). Things like clothing, food, and shelter take obvious priority over owning a computer. There are plenty of other avenues for children to gain information and computer literacy: many schools have after-hours programs that involve working with computers and other forms of technology, and your local public library also has computers available for school work and Web surfing.

If you do decide to buy a computer for your family, you may wonder how much money you should spend and what brands are the best. While there is virtually no limit to how much you could spend on a system, don't think that you should just purchase the most fully-featured, fastest computer you can afford. Retailers will always push "the best" but they seldom have what's best for you in mind (rather, the "best" computer from their perspective is the one that make them the most money).

Try making up a list of the things that you plan to do with your computer, both now and in the foreseeable future. If you or your child will be using it for multi-media productions and gaming, you'll probably need a fairly powerful system. If, on the other hand, your family will be doing little more than word processing and Web surfing, then a very modestly priced computer may be perfectly satisfactory.

There are many different brands in the computer marketplace. Our purpose here is not to recommend any one brand over another. You should, however, know that the Apple Macintosh is different from other brands of computer in that it does not run the Microsoft Windows operating system. Macintoshes are widely used in educational environments - many users find them to be more intuitive than Windows-based machines - but there are fewer programs available for the Mac. By contrast, Windows-based computers are more widely used, can run more programs, and generally cost less.

Should I Buy a Laptop Computer for My Child?

Laptop computers are carefully engineered to take up as little space as possible. These design costs are, of course, passed on to the consumer, which is why a laptop with the same performance specifications as a desktop machine will cost substantially more. There are many reasons not to buy your child a laptop:

  • As noted above, their price-to-performance ratio cannot compete with desktops.
  • They are fragile. Laptops contain sophisticated electronics that cannot withstand much abuse. Young children knock things around a lot, and it is much easier mishandle a laptop computer than a desktop system.
  • Laptops are easily forgotten and stolen. If your child leaves his or her laptop computer unattended, chances are very good that someone will pick it up and keep it.
  • A laptop can make your child into a target. This is really an extension of the previous pointóchildren make easy victims for thieves. Letting your child walk around with expensive electronics can lead to dangerous situations in which your child risks real physical harm.

Still, there are a couple reasons why you might consider buying a laptop for your child:

  • They are convenient. With a laptop in hand, your child can get school work done more efficiently. For instance, if your child needs to do research in a library, a laptop can be a big help. In the near future, many public libraries will offer wireless connectivity, so that patrons on a library's premises can browse the online catalog (and even surf the Internet) from their own laptop computers.
  • If you are separated or divorced, your child might live with you some of the time and with his or her other parent some of the time; having a laptop could help your child to get school assignments done regardless of whose home he or she happens to be in.

 

 

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