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Posted: 12:19 p.m. Monday, April 28, 2014

Which Tablet Is Right for a Kid?

Set ground rules about tablet use before it gets out of hand

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You probably have access to a computer at work, at home, and on the go in the form of a smartphone. Do you really need a tablet in your life?

  See results

Yes, it's so easy and portable. I couldn't live without mine.

No, having too many gadgets is device overload and a tablet is one I don't need.

I'm not sure.

By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Your child wants a tablet for games and school work. What's the best deal out there in the marketplace?

There's a full-featured tablet called the Asus MeMO Pad that holds cost down so if your child breaks it or loses it, it won't hurt your wallet as much. MeMOs were selling for $89, but they've been moving so well that the cheapest in the marketplace I've seen recently is $99. Look for any price point somewhere around $100 for this 7-inch tablet.

At around $100, the MeMO offers more versatility, a big screen, and a lot of free games. Among the manufacturer's advertised specs on this budget tablet:

 

  • 7-inch HD tablet with a wide-view angle IPS display for stunning visuals
  • Rear 5MP and front 1.2MP dual cameras to capture the moments
  • Dual stereo speakers with Sonicmaster Technology for incredible sound effect.
  • Ultra light, weighs only 302g
  • Up to 10 hrs battery life to make it through your day

Meanwhile, you'll probably see a slew of marketing this season for kid-oriented tablets that lets parents control use with timers, restrictive browsing, and other features. These can be great for parents of younger kids who want to make sure they don't stumble on unsuitable content. Toys R Us has a very large selection, but you'll even find some permissive tablets at Sam's Club.

But don't spend a lot of money on these things because it's not long before a kid outgrows a kid-only tablet. They're typically geared to those 6 years old and younger. When your child graduates to a real tablet, I'd recommend you buy a used iPad if you're in the Apple orbit, or a tablet like the Asus MeMO if you're an Android person.

One word of warning: Some 40% of kids as young as 2 years old are now using tablets and smartphones, according to a new study. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents that a kid's screen time in total -- across smartphones, tablets, computers and TV -- should not exceed 2 hours a day. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

 

  • Lay down house rules about technology use for your kids.
  • Limit total screen time to 2 hours.
  • Establish a strict curfew for when screens have to be turned off.
  • Never leave a tablet or smartphone in your child's room.
  • Set the rules and be a tough enforcer!
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