NEWS$show=/search/label/news

Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

REVIEWS$show=/search/label/review

Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

PROJECTS$show=/search/label/project

Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

STEM$show=/search/label/stem

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

CODING$show=/search/label/coding

Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

ELECTRONICS$show=/search/label/electronics

We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

ROBOTICS$show=/search/label/robotics

We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

A First Laptop for an 8 Year Old Girl or Boy


(Updated for 2019) So you need to choose a first laptop for an 8 year old girl or boy? Let's take a look at what you need to consider to get the best value for money.

8 is around the age when kids really want a laptop of their own to do homework, play games and of course watch YouTube videos! We often get asked about the best first laptop for a child this age. I have an eight year old myself and so does Elbrie and we see lots of children and their laptops at the events we run.

There's no single best laptop for an eight year old as there are lots of things to take into account. If your child or family has very specific requirements then you'll need to do a bit more research (we'll cover other specialist questions separately.) But we've used our knowledge to offer a small number of choices that you can pick from based on which key features are important to you.

To answer the question we're going to make some assumptions / suggestions about how your child will use the laptop.
  • You have a limited budget and want to get a laptop that is 'good enough'. You understand that this means it's not going to be able to run games that have advanced graphics requirements (those laptops cost many times more!)
  • A laptop with an 11-14 inch screen is big enough for an 8 year old. Children have smaller hands and while a smaller device can be annoying for an adult, it's actually a better fit for a child. It's easier for them to move it around too.  A 14 inch screen offers a bit more space without being too enormous. 
  • If it's a Windows laptop, it needs to come with Windows 10. Windows 7 is getting old now and 8 didn't really take off. The free upgrade to Windows 10 has ended so it makes sense to get a laptop that comes with Windows 10.
  • If your child plays Minecraft then they'll be content with Windows 10 Edition or low settings on the PC version (most kids are at this age.) Kids that get really into Minecraft and want to run a ton of complex mods and the highest settings will need a more powerful laptop. 
  • You'd like to encourage your child to program robots or other devices at some point. Well we think this one is important! 
  • The design and color of the laptop is important. That's fair enough. These things can be important to children. 
  • You don't need a CD/DVD player. These are less important now that media has gone digital (it's still handy to have one computer in the house that can use them but it probably doesn't need to be your 8 year old's laptop)


What Specification?

Unless you are on a very tight budget we'd recommend you go for laptop with 4GB of RAM memory. This would have been expensive a couple of years ago, but this year we're seeing newer models come with 4GB and it's going to future-proof your purchase a little.

This is a real oversimplification, but if you don't want to wade through technical specifications, it's likely that a new model of laptop that comes with 4GB will have a reasonable processor to match it. In our experience the RAM makes the most difference for your money.

It's also worth considering storage space, particularly for Windows 10 laptops which use up a lot of the space with the operating system. Newer models are available with 64GB SSD. Trust us, making sure you have enough storage will avoid a lot of pain later.

Hackers Option


A new addition to our list for 2019 is the Hack laptop which is designed to encourage kids to get under the covers of a computer and learn to code and customise. 

The Hack laptop is a regular ASUS laptop but it comes with the Linux operating system and custom educational software. This is well worth considering if you want your kids to be creators of technology not just passive consumers. They'll still be able to do their homework and play some games. 




Value for Money Option - HP Stream

The HP Stream laptop has made a real impression at the low-end of the laptop market.

This laptop offers excellent value for money. You're not going to get high-end features but you're going to get a 'good enough' laptop that will meet the needs of most 8 year olds.

The HP Stream comes in a choice of bright colors and 11 and 14 inch screen sizes.

The newer models offer 4GB of RAM memory and 64GB of storage which will make a big difference.

Be aware that you don't get a lot of storage but newer models with 64GB are a big improvement over older models. This is probably not an issue for children's use. If they are fond of taking lots of photos and videos then make sure you sort out some cloud storage.


Touchscreen Convertible 2-in-1 Option

Your child may have mostly used a tablet up until now and may not have good keyboard and trackpad / mouse skills. A touchscreen will ease the transition in this case (though do encourage them to learn to touch type on a keyboard!) Touchscreen input makes sense for lots of things (it's great for drag and drop coding!)

An 11.6" screen is plenty big enough for younger kids and convertible laptops can be used as a Windows 10 laptop or you can flip the keyboard and use it tablet style. This is great when kids want to sit on the couch and play a game or read a book.





What About Chromebooks?


Chromebooks are superb value for money but they are not suitable for all 8 year old's. You really need to understand what you're buying. Don't choose one of these if you don't understand what it is.

A Chromebook basically offers a cloud and web-browser based experience. It works well with cloud-based applications, but not all of these are available to children under 13 so you'll need to do some research.

You can't download software onto a Chromebook so you can't run Minecraft (there is a workaround but it's not for the average family.) If you want to be able to program robots and other hardware then you may find that there's not a solution for the Chromebook or that support lags behind other platforms.

Chromebooks are great for coding in Scratch and other web-based editors and there's a lot that kids can do with them. Chromebooks are increasingly popular in schools so children may be familiar with them or even encouraged to bring their own device.

Verdict

Kids these days are pretty lucky! Low-end laptops are actually very useful for everyday homework, gaming and entertainment. This means that many families will be able to justify the cost of a laptop per child.

In our house sharing just doesn't work well. When my boys were little we managed with a shared desktop that they could use, but we've found that they want to use their laptops at the same time. They also want to play LEGO together and play outside together so taking turns doesn't work very well for encouraging a balance of screen time and other activities.


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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: A First Laptop for an 8 Year Old Girl or Boy
A First Laptop for an 8 Year Old Girl or Boy
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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