The holiday season is upon us. We are in for a heavy dose of fun, food, friends, and family, not necessarily in that order. A part of the fun is gift-giving. And the number one priority on our gift list is our children. The leading gifts on that list will be toys and electronics. And there lies the problem. Not all toys and electronics are appropriate for all kids. Helping you sort that out will be the focus of this article.
Almost all toys sold in America have a suggestion for the age-range of the child that should own the toy. Some toys are just too dangerous for children below the suggested age. It could be something as simple as the size of the toy. Small children put toys in their mouths. For this reason, you have to be careful when you have children in different ranges. The older kid has to be careful not to leave the toy where the younger kid can get to it.
The same is true for electronics, maybe even truer. But not all electronics have clearly marked age restrictions. To that end, here is some of what you need to know about electronics and kids:
The Right Level
There is a good chance you will be tempted to purchase one of those remote control helicopters for sale. To be sure, they make great gifts that are universally loved. The problem is knowing how to pick the right one. They make these drones for all age and skill levels. They even make professional drones for getting real work done.
So feel free to get a drone as a gift. But your precocious teens may be better off with one that does not have a video camera. Your 10-year-old may have trouble handling one of the drones that seem like they ought to require a pilot’s license. There are different drones with different features, ranges, and levels of difficulty. They come in different sizes at different price points. Set your child up for success by choosing the right level of electronic gift for her.
Some electronics are like pets. They require a lot of the owner. Taking care of them and getting the most out of them can only be done by responsible people. Children are notoriously irresponsible.
If you are looking to get a child a high-end smartphone, make sure they are responsible enough to handle it. A hearty plastic is a lot more durable than a phone with glass on both sides. Something with a limited data plan is never going to work for a kid who doesn’t understand and respect limits.
There is also a matter of safety. Even with parental controls, a kid with a pocket-sized computer has a lot more freedom than a kid with a phone dominated by a fixed numeric keypad. Giving a child a smartphone is a little like giving them a car. You might start out with the bicycle of smartphones, and let them earn better ones by demonstrating responsibility.
Some toys manage to pack a lot of fun in an education-rich package. That has always been one of the benefits of Legos. There are toys that have taken the best part of Legos and added coding instruction to the mix. There are many other toys that also teach coding. It is one of the most useful skills a child of this generation can learn.
Coding is not the only worthwhile skill. Not all video games are bad. Many are quite good at teaching hand-eye coordination. Others teach problem-solving skills. Still others focus on teamwork. If there is an area of development your child needs work on, there is more than likely a video game specifically designed to help.
So don’t be afraid of incorporating electronics into your gift-giving this year. Just make sure those gifts offer the right level of engagement. Match the gift to your child’s level of responsibility. And get them something that will do more than entertain them.