Buying a Computer for the Kids: What to Look for Before Making a Purchase

By the time he reaches tween-age, your child is really ready to have his own computer. In fact, your tween probably knows more about computers than you! With the way technology is growing in schools, it seems almost certain that your child will need to use a computer for research and homework. They also love to play games on the computer, download and listen to music, and talk with friends via instant messaging.

When deciding on what make and model of computer to buy for your tween, keep these things in mind:

Midrange Computer

Experts agree that this is the way to go for a child’s first computer (Matt Elliott of Cnet.com). It is a powerful computer capable of performing all the tasks that a child between the ages of 9 to 12 need for school, listening to music, and playing games. Popular dealers of midrange computers include IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Sun Microsystems.

Processor Capability

The processor determines how fast a computer will perform its functions. It is the “brain” of the computer. Intel processors offer plenty of speed. Look for computers in the Pentium D 800 or 900 series. You will also want to consider a computer with at least 512 megabytes of RAM and at least 80 to 120 gigabytes of hard-drive space (where programs are stored). Your tween will need a lot of space to load games, download music, and store documents.

Warranty

Most computers come with a warranty of at least a year. Sometimes you will have to add that to the price of the computer. It just depends on the make and model of the computer, and where you purchase it from. You may also consider upgrading the warranty to a 2- or 3-year warranty just to be sure you are covered against anything that goes wrong. Sometimes kids will hit the wrong keys or click on something that causes the computer to become confused. This way, you will have coverage if your computer needs to be fixed.

Technical Support

As with a warranty, you will want to check and see if the computer comes with free technical support, in case you have any questions. Some manufacturers will only offer technical support for a period of time, and then you have to pay for their service. You will want to consider a computer that comes with life-time technical support for as long as you have the computer.

Monitors

A computer package comes with a standard size monitor, which can be upgraded at the time of purchase. You may want to consider at monitor that is at least 17 inches to 19 inches in size for a tween. The monitor will be large enough to help prevent squinting. Flat bed panels are also recommended due to the ability see the screen images better.

Popular Buys for Tweens

  • eMachines Desktop T5224
  • Gateway Desktop GT5428
  • Hewlett Packard Pavilion a6100 Series

Extra Tips

  • Try to avoid getting your child a laptop. It is an expensive piece of equipment that will break easily if dropped.
  • Set up the computer in a well-used room in your house (for example, the living room), where you can monitor what your child is doing and help him out, if needed.
  • Stores and websites are always offering computer deals, so it is rare that you will ever need to pay the suggested retail price for a computer. Shop for sales.
  • Keep the troubleshoot guide that comes with your computer in a safe place