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Toddler-friendly Computers

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  • User profile image
    RickH

    My wife and I were discussing the fact that our 19 month-old daughter is probably going to start playing some simple computer games over the next year.  Right now we only have two laptop computers in the house, and we're not to sure if they're going to be a good fit for toddler-play. 

    Can anyone share experiences with setting up a toddler-friendly computer?  I'm trying to convince my wife that our daughter should have a TabletPC (The Averatec C3500 specifically) since the majority of kids games don't use the keyboard anyway, but she thinks that the swivel-hinge would be broken in a matter of weeks.

    Anyone have any experiences to share?

  • User profile image
    eagle

    If it was my child she would have a quad opteron, with dual 36” LCD monitors, surround sound and the latest Longhorn build.

  • User profile image
    Karim

    You might want to consider either a slate or slate + keyboard style tablet, such as the Compaq TC1100:

    http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/tabletpc/

    The reason I say this, is that on the laptop-style tablets, if the keyboard gets gunked up, you'll have to send the entire system out to be fixed.  Whereas on the slate & hybrid styles, you can just replace the keyboard ($149 on the Compaq).  Actually on the Compaq, you can remove the keyboard entirely, or you can use it like a laptop.

    I suppose you could use a laptop-style tablet with an external keyboard, but then you'd have to cover up the laptop's keyboard with Saran wrap....

    Here's a tablet that might pass as toddler-proof:

    http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/tabletpc/rugged/

    It's drool-proof, drop-resistant, and dishwasher safe.  (Ok I'm not sure about the dishwasher safe part but you get the idea).  Screen's only 8.4 inches, but how big of a display do you need before age 2, honestly?

    I think Compaq's marketing this wrong (as they do with all their tablets).  They should make a model of their "rugged" tablet that's painted in bright primary colors, pre-install some Disney software and sell it as Baby's First Tablet or something.  Buy now and get a free HP sippy cup.

  • User profile image
    Karim

    eagle wrote:

    If it was my child she would have a quad opteron, with dual 36” LCD monitors, surround sound and the latest Longhorn build.



    LOL nice.  Will you adopt me?  LOL

  • User profile image
    MisterDonut

    Gateway *used* to have a child's computer. Funky Keyboard with big letters, etc.. I remember seeing it in a Gateway store.. Sad

    Not sure if they still carry anything like that anymore..

    And the local store is abandoned.. Sad

  • User profile image
    johncj

    I've got 5 kids (my oldest is 20, my youngest are 5 year-old twins) and they've all been computer users by the time they were 2. Here's my advice:

    Get a desktop, not a laptop or tablet. Laptops/tablets are too fragile.

    Get a cheap, old-fashioned keyboard (not a multi-media or natural one). Some games come with accessories that strap on to the keyboard.

    Get a CRT, not an LCD. The kids will touch the screen.

    The "kiddie mice" don't work that well. For young kids, one of those small laptop mice can work well. You only need two buttons. Wheels and extra buttons only cause problems.

    Kid games are the worst when it comes to compatibility. There are a lot still being sold that don't work with XP. If you know somebody who's throwing away on old Win9X machine, just take that, but don't connect it to a network. Those will work for the first few years. Kids games don't take much horsepower until the kids get to be about 10. Of course, by the time they're twenty, they have better machines than you do.

  • User profile image
    oldskoolfra​gger

    Dood,

    All I got to say is this....think destruction.

    I've got three kids and I've gone through more keyboards than I can count, more mice than I care to remember along with a few fried monitors, broken CDROM/DVD carriages, water soaked power supplies....

    There no stinkin way I would ever let my 20 month old near a laptop or tablet pc Wink 

    Ask yourself your question when considering giving a plaything to your little one "is it ok if this is broken?" If the answer is no, then don't do it.

    My recommendation would be to rummage around and build a sub 1Ghz pc with the cheapest stuff you can find, along with a case of keyboards and mice....you should be golden. Oh, and I would not recommend a flat-panel for young ones....they are too light....I've seen em go flying off desktops.


    Just my humble opinion.

  • User profile image
    jamie
  • User profile image
    Karim

    LOL "...while developing crucial skills for your child's education and career."

    "Career?"  What, like you're going to put this on your resume?

    Experience

    At Age Two, mastered "Mickey's Fun House" as well as "Goofy Paint" software applications.

    Jeez, I remember when being a kid was supposed to be fun....

  • User profile image
    jsrfc58

    I would have to agree with Johncj on this one...get something where you can replace the keyboard (for $10 if necessary) easily, and the monitor can take a certain amount of abuse (within reason).  Not only do drinks get spilled into the keyboard, but all other sorts of surprises occur...from CD's getting put in offcenter (jamming up the drive), to programs/games being installed without your knowledge (no matter how much you explain yourself to ASK first--although this is probably not a toddler-age issue), to things getting knocked around in general.

    Oh, and be ready for a wave of adware/plug-in issues, even if they go to "innocent" sites like Nick.com.  And be ready to eventually explain the dangers of forwarded mail, attachments, etc., if they go onto the internet/start sending mail (that comes later in life, though). 

    Some things are funny...like when the kids went looking for a Checkers game they found...a day later, there were twenty icons on the desktop with all sorts of creative names from "Chekers" to "ilovecheckers" to "chekrs". 

    I would probably stay away from trendy things, though, like a Disney-design PC, a Barbie PC, or (help us all) a Pokemon PC.  By the way, Jamie, that is a weird looking joystick in the picture above.  The problem with "trendy" things is that kids grow out of those trends so fast, and then it becomes "uncool" to have anything to do with Disney, Barbie, Pokemon, etc.  I'm sure this will happen to Spongebob, soon, too.


    Whatever your case may be, good luck.

  • User profile image
    jamie

    karim lol

    the guy did say he was considering a (3k?) tablet..

    id go for this Disney thing - as budget does not seem to be an issue

    another good option would be an e-Mac or all in one emachines

  • User profile image
    RickH

    Just for clarification...  The tablet I mentioned is only $1350, so it's not really high-end.  Money is an issue, and I was considering the tablet mostly because it's an excuse for me to get a tablet in the house to play with...

    Really I'd like to hear opinions on how some of the newer technology is holding up to toddler-level abuse.  I know I can cobble an old pentium2 together, and replace parts as they break.  We may end up doing that because the newer stuff isn't suitable, I was just curious if anyone has had any experience stress-testing the mechanical qualtiy of the newer stuff...

  • User profile image
    Keskos

    RickH wrote:

    Just for clarification...  The tablet I mentioned is only $1350, so it's not really high-end.  Money is an issue, and I was considering the tablet mostly because it's an excuse for me to get a tablet in the house to play with...

    Really I'd like to hear opinions on how some of the newer technology is holding up to toddler-level abuse.  I know I can cobble an old pentium2 together, and replace parts as they break.  We may end up doing that because the newer stuff isn't suitable, I was just curious if anyone has had any experience stress-testing the mechanical qualtiy of the newer stuff...



    So you are using your children as an excuse to buy stuff for yourself? Wink

    I think new and expensive electronic devices are not suitable for toddlers, because usually toddlers are stupid and do not understand that those devices are expensive. Trying to explain that they are expensive is not a solution either, because as I said, they don't get it. For example I have seen so many children destructing expensive equipment, and when you ask them why do they do that, they don't even care to answer, they just want to play their next game. Nothing works, they don't want to take responsibility for their own actions.

    For these reasons my recommendation is to make them sign a document that says if they break anything they are responsible for it and will pay for it. This way you are guaranteed to get your money back. The problem with this solution is that though, usually these toddlers remain jobless for long periods of time so collecting the money is a problem. Another problem is that unfortunately our legal system does not accept the signatures of toddlers, even though they sign it by themselves, so courts may not enforce those agreements and may declare them void.

    Maybe the real solution is buying a panasonic thoughbook.

    Sporting a breakthrough design, the Toughbook 27 can withstand being dropped from a considerable height and provides excellent resistance to water and dust. Driven by a 500MHz Pentium III processor, it is housed in tough magnesium alloy casing. Internal dampers also protect the LCD and help prevent screen bending or twisting. Perfect for construction sites, fire patrols, and more!


  • User profile image
    Sabot

    RickH, I think it's great that you are considering getting your children involved in computing.

    My opinion is that the PC is a very powerful tool just like a TV or VCR and must be treated in the same way. Children will learn how to use devices quickly and will learn the boundaries of it's use when you teach them.

    I prefer to let my small children to just enjoy physical activity and play and not sit infront of TV's or computers. I'm more than happy to introduce them to the world of computing at a later age.

    Right now, I'm going to spend as much time as I can playing and being with my children doing as many fun things as money will allow ... and leave computers to rainy days.

    -Sabot

  • User profile image
    HellSnoopy

    The disney one might be a good idea , it probably comes with a lot of toddler friendly software and its cute for little kids

  • User profile image
    scottmace20​02

    I have a four-year-old daughter and have been very cautious about providing her much computer time, based on some studies that show that its benefits for young children are way overblown and often come at the detriment of other non-computer play they really benefit from. There's a good book out on this called The Flickering Mind by Todd Oppenheimer.

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