Right Tech at the Right Age
From the first time your baby mouths your smartphone, or your toddler starts swiping your tablet screen, it’s a tall order to keep them away from technology. Since kids are going to be exposed to it in school anyway, at earlier and earlier ages, it makes sense to steer a positive course. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under age two, and limiting tech time for kids and teens to two hours a day.
With that in mind, here are some of the best age-appropriate tools, toys and gadgets for school-aged children and teens.
K-2: Entering the Digital World
Get your little learners started on keyboarding skills with their first tablet, and encourage creative play with toys designed to develop fine motor skills and imagination. They can role play Anna and Elsa on Frozen-themed two-way radios, learn skills from Sprout Channel favorites like Bob the Builder and Barney and Friends on the Sprout Channel Cubby, and challenge their minds with the Osmo Apple iPad Gaming System or cute Zoomer Zuppies.
Grades 3-5: Reading and Gaming
Elementary-aged children need a focus on academic basics while learning critical thinking skills. The right kinds of online games, properly supervised, can help them use technology to help them excel in the real world. Check out the imaginative Toon Link Super Smash Bros. Series of Amiibo collectibles on the Wii U GamePad. Explore safe web exploration and educational games for kids up to age 9 with the LeapPad 3 Learning Tablet or Vivitar Camelio 2. Ignite a love of science with the Kidz Delight Smithsonian Kids’ Space Tablet , or encourage writing and creative thinking with the Password Journal 8 e-diary.
Toon Link Super Smash Bros Series Amiibo / LeapFrog LeapPad3 Learning Tablet / Vivitar Camelio 2 Tablet Bundle (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) / Kidz Delight Smithsonian Space Tablet / Password Journal 8
Grades 6-8: Safe Exploration
Middle school kids are already tech veterans. They likely need the Internet for school and want to stay abreast of what’s going on with their friends on social media. If you’re ready to let them graduate from the family desktop, check out an entry-level laptop. Encourage fitness with an affordable, wearable activity tracker like the Eclipse Fitbit. Give a STEM or music lover would probably appreciate the Elenco Snap Circuits Lights Kit — electricity with no wires! — or the Sphero robotic ball. Controlled with a smart device using Bluetooth, it rolls at a speedy 6 feet per second.
High School: Ready for the Real World
Academic success today heavily depends on technology. It might be time to upgrade to a more advanced laptop that goes anywhere, like the popular Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch laptop, or the ultra-thin iPad Air 2. Nourish creativity with a top-notch camera like the GoPro Hero 3, and keep them connected and on-task with wearables like the Pebble – Time 22mm Smartwatch. While technology can be expensive, look into back-to-school sales, sales tax holiday deals and electronics coupon codes.
As they hit their physical, social and emotional milestones, kids are ready for different technology levels at different ages. The important thing to remember is that they need screen supervision and time limits. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop found that households with children ages four to 14 own about a dozen consumer electronics. Use them wisely and they will help prepare your child for real-world success!