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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How do you feel about children having laptops?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23098points) May 12th, 2011

My oldest daughter is finishing up 4th grade now, and several of her classmates take laptops to school, to do research for projects, and to take notes on. These are 9 and 10 year olds.

I have actually considered getting my daughter a laptop this next Christmas, mainly because she has so much homework that involves the computer, but I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable with her taking it to school.

What do you think about kids that age having their own laptop, and would you, as a parent, be concerned with them taking it to school?

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29 Answers

MissAusten's avatar

If would depend on the school. My kids have access to computers at school and at home, so I don’t think there’s a need. By late middle school or high school a laptop might make more sense, but knowing how amazingly well-equipped the schools here are, I don’t think it’s a necessity.

My daughter is in 6th grade and uses laptops at school. Plus, they have more than one computer lab. Having her own laptop would be redundant. If her school didn’t have enough computers or laptops to go around and the teachers still expected that much work to be done on computers, I might consider it. Probably not for a 4th grader though.

For homework, I guess it depends on your home situation. If sharing a computer isn’t convenient and you can afford a laptop, then go for it. I’d be careful not to call it her laptop though but stress that it is a tool for the family. That way you can set up ground rules like not allowing her to use it alone in her room or take it out of the house.

I’d suggest you ask the teacher or principal. The laptop craze could be parents trying to outdo each other and more of an accessory trend than a needed tool. I’d save my money until I saw a need for using it on something like that. Kids here in 5th and 6th grade commonly have iPhones, which I think is kind of ridiculous. My poor deprived kid doesn’t have any kind of cell phone!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’d get them a netbook if I were you. It’s lighter, cheaper and smaller than a laptop.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Hmmmm, good points there, @MissAusten. I also find it interesting that the school district about 15 minutes away from us issues laptops instead of textbooks, beginning in 4th grade.

And I have to admit that I did get my daughter a cheap cell phone, BUT it’s just so I’ll always have a way of contacting her immediately, or vice versa, when she’s out riding her bike through the neighborhood. She has to make “check-in” calls every 20 minutes, so that my paranoid brain doesn’t imagine her lying naked in a ditch. =0)

keobooks's avatar

One thing I’d worry about is the kids’ sense of responsibility. When I was working in the library, I saw kids leave their VERY expensive laptops totally unattended and they would frequently leave the laptops behind at the library. They were also pretty rough on their machines.

I wouldn’t give a kid anything that would make me angry if they lost it or broke it, or if it got stolen because they weren’t careful with it.

Kind of a different issue, but I’d also want to make sure they understood how important it was to use password protection and not let their friends into their personal files. Every time a kid went to the bathroom and left their laptop or public terminal unattended and their facebook accounts open, the kids would love getting on and posting random garbage on their friend’s account.

DominicX's avatar

My dad has always had a hobby of buying used computers, building computers, fixing them, etc. So when I was 10, I got my first laptop for my birthday, which was a used laptop without internet access. Mostly I just typed up stories and played whatever games I could on it. It was purely for fun. But of course, we’re talking the ancient times known as the early 2000s when 9-year-olds didn’t have iPhones and Twitter accounts like they do now. It was when I entered middle school that I started using a new internet-enabled laptop full-time.

In my opinion, and I’m not a parent so feel free to ignore it, a laptop could be very useful for a kid in today’s world where the internet and technology are becoming increasingly important. Many schools require things to be typed, access to the internet aids in research for schoolwork, etc. It isn’t just about Facebook and WoW. But I wouldn’t start off giving them something super expensive and fancy; kids that age can be careless and “oops I left it on the bus” is not a casual excuse. If you did buy your kid a laptop, I’d recommend getting any kind of accidental damage service or anti-theft service. And I’d limit the amount of internet usage (if at all, at that age, it depends) and teach them about computer/internet safety, etc., practical things.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree with what @MissAusten said. Every school my son has been too (he’s at his 6th school now) has had computers for the children to use and plenty of them for what they’ve needed at this point. We have multiple computers at home (3 desktops and 2 laptops), so computer access at home is not a problem. Technically one of the desktops is his, but it’s not set up right now. I have no problem with my son having a computer to use at school and at home, but I won’t allow him to take one from home to school unless it’s absolutely necessary. He can use the school’s computers while at school and our computers when he is home.

At this point, I personally don’t plan to ever buy him a laptop to take to school. Now that might change depending on how things go while he progresses in school (he’s only in 3rd grade right now), but at this point, I don’t see it happening.

Cell phones are a separate issue and something else I have no plans in buying for my son in the future.

Blackberry's avatar

A sign of the times. It was bound to happen. I started using computers around 11 or 12.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I would buy my child a laptop to use mainly for schoolwork but I wouldn’t want them taking it to school. If my child were in private school then I’d opt with other parents to pool resources and buy a laptop for each child that could be kept at the school.

At home then I want PC’s for kids, fixed units set up in fixed areas for study, research or whatever.

ragingloli's avatar

Only with a limited account. That means, no access to hardware configuration, plus disabled network and wireless adapter, no access to the optical drive, usb, or wirewire ports to prevent access to other memory devices. Also no ability to install any software, or write access to drives and folders not specifically unblocked.
That way you do not have to monitor their every activity.

dabbler's avatar

Just don’t put them in their laps, still plenty of them get too hot for that.
Does she have to take it to school? A desktop could be better for homework because she’ll sit in a regular spot to use it and get a focus there.
Some kids instinctively take care of machinery and some never quite get that even well into adulthood when they have to start paying for replacements. If she’s used to using a computer she may have a good appreciation for what’s delicate.

blueiiznh's avatar

My daughter (10) has had her own since she was in 4th grade. It is for projects for school and other things.
I don’t see anything wrong with one for home use.
It is for home use as they have computers in school to use and computer class to teach them.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Sure…if she can be taught to use one responsibly.

poisonedantidote's avatar

All kids should have a laptop in my opinion. Happy 4th birthday, here is some cake a laptop and a book on programming.

I’m quite surprised schools still use books. When I was at school over 10 years ago it looked like we were starting to move away from books, I’m surprised it has not happened yet.

ddude1116's avatar

I say get a desktop instead because it’s less portable. But I also don’t like spending a large amount of time on computers, aside from using it as a DVD player or music source.

Cruiser's avatar

Kids still loose sweatshirts and mittens at that age…I would be inclined to allow the use of a LT at home but hauling one to school with the books and crap they already have in their backpacks is nuts!! Get her a 16 meg flip stick, thumb thingy she can save her work and bring it home and weighs a mere one ounce!

AmWiser's avatar

Ummm! is this the same daughter who misplaced her glasses a few week ago. Just kidding:D But like @Cruiser said those thumb drives are great assets for saving work. Then she could bring it home and use it on the home computer.

knitfroggy's avatar

My 8 and 11 year olds each have a lap top. My son, the 8 year old goes to a magnet school that focus a lot on computer work. He has no need for his laptop at school because they have enough computer time. My daughter is a 5th grader and she doesn’t need hers at school either. My daughter can’t keep track of her cell phone or glasses, I am really not going to send her to school with her laptop.

Aethelwine's avatar

All I have to say is, this really sucks for poor children. I thought it was bad enough when we had to get internet because my sons were required to do homework that involved looking things up online. This was only a few years ago. Children have computers at home, school and the library. How can the poor keep up with this?

My children will get laptops to take to school when they go to college. Actually, my oldest just returned from his first year at the university, he still doesn’t have a laptop. (he survived). We do hope to get him one soon though.

edit: I’d like to add, both my sons (age 16 and 18) are straight A students. Having a laptop isn’t necessary for great grades

wundayatta's avatar

My son is 11. For his brithday we gave him the money we would have spent on a party instead of a party. He wanted a tablet—Motorola Xoom, but it wasn’t out yet and he didn’‘t have enough money. So he got a laptop. He doesn’t take it to school. He does school work on it, and mails it to school.

It’s only a few months later and he has buyer’s remorse. He wishes he had waited until he had enough money for the tablet, and he really wants the Motorola now.

Apparently, tablets are the wave of the future. They will replace laptops as the tool of choice. So, I would seriously consider getting your child a tablet instead of a laptop. If you need advice, ask my son. He has memorized every ad for every tablet on the market. He researches all this stuff on youtube. Gah! Who knows? Maybe reading will become irrelevant soon.

Aethelwine's avatar

I just asked my 16 year old son what the other kids are doing with their laptops at school. I asked if they use them for research or notes. He laughed. He said they are using them for games.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would love to be able to provide my two toddlers with lap tops of their own. Hubby is an expert in computer access and he has provided age appropriate access.

There are numerous sites that provide age appropriate content, and when I let them use my laptop, both of my toddler grandsons, age 2 and 4, can find and use their own sites.

We had the early Apple Two computer when our son was born, hubby created several sites for the baby to play with, and by age two, Sonny was able to follow a complex series of events to bring up his own games (turn on the computer, insert the disc, boot the computer, choose the site, and so on)

Plucky's avatar

I don’t think a child should have a laptop with internet access (or at least internet access that they can access). If the world simply must equip their kids with laptops…then I think the access, if any, should be very age appropriate and monitored. Of course, alot of that can depend on the child as well. Some kids are much more responsible and “street smart” than others.

Also, the pc/mac/whatever companies should maybe start making more laptops to specific age groups. More stuff like this (but cheaper ..which, apparently, took Toshiba and Best Buy two years to put together.

ratboy's avatar

Young children carrying laptops is a great idea. You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve ever tried to wrest a laptop from a college student’s selfish hands.

iphigeneia's avatar

My school required students to have their own laptops from grade 5. Bringing a laptop to school is fine if everyone has one, because then schools usually have arrangements for them, e.g. when they can be used in class, and where they are kept when not in use.

My main concern is that apparently grade 4s need a laptop to take notes. Assignments and research are great uses of a laptop, but from my experience of computers in school (and there may be a couple of jellies who experience this in the workforce), if your teacher/boss can’t see the screen, your Spider Solitaire high score will go through the roof.

rooeytoo's avatar

Does anyone remember how to take notes by hand anymore?

Seems as if you give a grade 4 kid a lappy, she/he gets stalked by a sexual predator on FB so everyone writes to their senator and wants FB shut down.

I would have a desk top at home in the living room and let the kids use it while you supervise.

The flash drive is a great idea if data needs to be transported from school to home or vice versa.

ucme's avatar

My daughter has had one for over a year now she’s 11yrs old. I’m perfectly happy with that arrangement & more importantly, so is she.

Beulah's avatar

Recently bought a laptop for our 12 yr old on the condition that it doesn’t leave the house and with ground rules for internet access. He seems happy with it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Thanks for all the answers guys. I’m thinking she may get a cheap netbook or something, this next year, but I won’t let her take it to school.

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