The 10 Best Laptops For Kids
This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in January of 2020. Whether they're trying to stay connected to family, playing the latest game, or tackling schoolwork, children today have a lot of reasons to hop on a computer. Choosing the one that best suits their needs can be a challenge when few are designed specifically for youths. While parental supervision is required for safe use of any computer, these picks do a good job of offering balanced value. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 03, 2020:
Purchasing a computer for a kid can be challenging in that the typical variables considered when buying a PC for an adult are still relevant but ultimately weighted differently. Performance, for instance, may be less important in some cases than factors such as security, construction, and price. How those qualities figure into the equation depends greatly on the age of the child, intended usage, and overall budget.
When purchasing a device that will be used for grade school children and younger, you likely don't need it to feature top-of-the-line performance specifications. Their activities won't require as much memory or processing speed as adult-use typically will. That's part of why the majority of selections on our list rely on processors with speeds between 2 and 3 GHz.
If your child is big into gaming, though, they'll need the kind of power offered by the Acer Nitro 5. Though it's not considered a top tier choice, it's a good starter selection with a lower price than most gaming personal computers. It also stands out from the other Windows-based PCs on the list because it comes with Windows 10 Home installed instead of Windows 10 S, offering a broader range of capabilities. To this end, it provides the most value to high schoolers who need a PC for class in addition to play.
The difference between Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Home is important. Windows 10 S provides greater security by filtering all potential programs through a vetted app store, protecting both your investment and your young one. However, like Chrome OS, this framework doesn't always support all of the games or programs your child may want to use, even if they're relatively harmless. If there are specific programs or applications that are popular among your children, it's worth looking into whether the operating systems on the machines you're evaluating will support their use. Though Windows 10 S can be upgraded to Windows 10 Home for a price, it's worth noting that doing so affects the overall cost of your computer as well as its performance speed and battery life.
How the device will be used can also influence what type of structure is advisable. For example, if you're buying for a kid in high school who will be completing a large amount of their work digitally, they might be better served with a more traditional model featuring a full keyboard with ample onboard storage. Students still in middle or grade school, on the other hand, may be able to make do with a model like the Acer Chromebook Spin or Lenovo Chromebook C330 Convertible.
If you're planning on using the purchase as well, your planned activity and its technological needs should factor into your decision, too. The relatively low processing speed on the Surface Go 2 or dim lighting on the Acer Chromebook Spin might not phase a seven-year-old but could prove frustrating for you as you're clicking around on social apps or referencing a recipe in the kitchen.
Durability can matter a great deal when kids are in the picture. Convertible models like the Surface Go 2 offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to use them as a tablet or conventional PC, but the hinges on such devices, even at their best, may not be sturdy enough for rambunctious kiddos. While options like the ASUS Chromebook are designed to survive inevitable drops and spills, there's a tradeoff in terms of aesthetic: it looks like a child's device.
Of course, if the child in question is in preschool and looks are the least of your concerns, the Vtech Challenger Laptop is a low-cost educational solution that can introduce them to technology while providing an opportunity to cultivate responsibility before they have a need for a fully functional computer. It stands out among similar products with a QWERTY keyboard that can help them build muscle memory ahead of formally learning typing skills.
Though no one wants to spend more than they have to on these sorts of purchases, concerns about price are balanced out by your expectations of the machine. For instance, if your family already has a tablet for entertainment but you need something for schoolwork, you may be able to save some money by opting for a traditional laptop without touchscreen capabilities like the Asus VivoBook or Acer Aspire 5. If you only have the budget for one computing device, a convertible may be a more cost-effective solution.
It also depends on how long you expect to get use out of the product. If you just need something that will work for now, a lower pricetag might be attractive. If your child is getting ready to go to college or is responsible enough to take care of a high-end machine, the MacBook Air or Pixelbook Go can be a worthy investment, providing years of utility.
No matter which computer you pick, if it connects to the internet, there are safety concerns. Fortunately, all of the options listed here are loaded with an operating system that incorporates parental controls through the use of family account management. Though each offers some level of screen time, web access, and download restrictions, they are also all susceptible to workarounds and do little to protect against things like cyberbullying and predators. Even if you invest in additional safeguards like apps or software, open communication and supervision remain the best way to make any computer safe for kids.
Qustodio There are plenty of risks associated with giving your child computer access, but Qustodio helps you better track and control their use. It allows you to block content, limit screen time, monitor social activity, and more across multiple devices with varied operating systems. qustodio.com
Piper Computer Kit Why buy a computer when you can teach your child how to build one? The Piper Computer Kit comes with all the materials needed to construct a fully functional computer, including a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B board, 9" LCD display, and 7800 mAh rechargeable battery. Best of all, it incorporates programs like Minecraft and PiperCode to teach your young one valuable problem-solving and programming lessons. They even have bulk purchase options for teachers and a slew of available add-ons to expand the PC's capabilities. playpiper.com