iPad for a Middle Schooler?
iPad 2 is a Popular Wishlist Item for a Middle Schooler
There is little doubt that your tween has a grasp of the potential to enjoy some of the cutting edge tech tools available, and iPad tends to be one of those favorites to hope and ask for, regardless of parent budgets. Dealing with those wished for tech gifts for tweens can be varied, depending on household finances, as well as consideration of whether the gift in question is appropriate for the asking child. There are plenty of things to consider, if you are debating whether your middle school aged child should have an iPad, and while some parents may simply cater to a child's requests, others really want to know what the pro's and con's of the gift are.
Having taught at that middle school level, and parenting my own houseful, I offer some parent pointers in the decision making process.
Is Your Middle Schooler Responsible?
Responsibility is varied at the middle school level. Of course, some children seem as if they will never be responsible, and others seem as if they were born with a sensible approach to everything. In between are most other tweens, and putting an iPad in the hands of a tween means entrusting that child with a $500+ piece of equipment.
Has your tween washed a tech item? An iPod, Cell Phone, or PSP? Is your tween absent minded with important things, like the check for school pictures? Does your tween respond well to instruction and correction?
These are all important considerations. It's a little tougher to put an iPad through the wash, as it's not likely to fit in a pocket. This is a helpful point in favor of the tablet computer for your middle schooler. It's big enough that it's not going to be misplaced as easily as a Nintendo DS or PSP. However, it can fit into a tween backpack. You don't want an expensive tech gift going to school in a middle school backpack, trust me. I've seen good calculators suffer irreparable damage due to rough handling in a middle school book bag, and the iPad is vulnerable, if not to damage, to theft or confiscation.
You need to consider rules for where the tween iPad will and won't go, and you need to know that your middle schooler will respect those rules.
Is Your Tween Clumsy?
This is not meant in an insensitive light. Tweens begin to change physically, and do a lot of growing. Notice the number of times you have to buy new jeans, because they have outgrown the last size? The constant changing seems to impact their balance and coordination. My tween son suddently couldn't do some basic things in a sport that were previously easy for him. My tween daughter, just a few nights ago, tripped and dropped a pot of soup, just trying to help out. These aren't intentional actions, but common issues. Middle schoolers can have awkward moments, and a dropped iPad may not survive, in the wrong surroundings, without good protective coverings.
***Otterbox is a great protective case for various tech products, with a double impact resistant covering. An inner plastic covering provides hard protection to the body of the device, while an outer silicone shell softens the impact of a drop or fall.
Weighing Your Options with an iPad for Your Tween
As an educational tool, the iPad is amazing, and there are huge amounts of apps for all sorts of activities and interests. If you have confidence in how your young person will handle the iPad, then it's a great choice. If you aren't sure, you could still stay with that choice, just making sure to establish rules, and check for cooperation with them. If you are less certain, you may want to consider a less costly tech gift. Any tech gift will have risks, but some suggestions are as follows.
Finding a Tough iPad Case is Important with a Tween
Consider a durable case for the middle grades and younger to be sure that your investment in this leading tablet choice doesn't end up for naught. While protection plans provide some assurance, you really don't want to have to face the hassle of a replacement due to careless handling. Tween-proof your young person's tablet for a longer device life and less chaos.
Is Your Middle Schooler Temperamental?
Tweens are in the throes of hormone changes, and mood swings aren't unusual. Big blow ups are often out of the blue. Is your tween prone to these? Will the iPad be the object of wrath in a fit of attitude?
Again, these are just helpful things to think about, if your are considering the investment in a small portable device that costs half a grand, or better.
With a middle schooler, it's important to have clear guidelines, and clear consequences, so that your child knows the boundaries, and what to expect if they are crossed. Logical consequences are helpful, as well. "If you lose/break/damage your iPad, I won't replace it."
iPod Touch for your Middle Schooler
Touchscreen Technology at Significant Savings, over iPad Cost
If you want to make a trial run on more expensive tech gifts, the iPod Touch is hugely popular with tweens and teens for music, and for similar uses to those of the iPad. In some ways, the iPad seems like a glorified iPod Touch. The biggest benefit to selecting the iPod Touch for your tween is the cost. With the basic model at just over $200, you can give your middle schooler the chance to demonstrate responsibility.
If you later decide on an iPad, the forthcoming iCloud will make it easy for your young person to have access to their purchases on all of their compatible devices. This is huge, if your tween will invest their allowance in iTunes selections to any great degree. My teens started their iTunes collections in their tween years, and have several hundred dollars in music. Transferral between devices is a little time consuming, but will be much easier with the iCloud.
Size is one downside, as an iPod Touch fits into a pocket, and will go through the wash, if care isn't taken. Emphasis on responsibility is still essential! However, the loss isn't as pricey with an iPod, as with a tablet computer.
Touch Screen with Kindle eReader
I love the fact that the most basic Kindle ereader available is now designed with a touchscreen interface. My tween daughter noted on her previous version that she liked the lack of touchscreen action because it prevented accidental page turning. However, the touchscreen allows for more intuitive use, and that works well for many. Pricing is great when compared with previous touchscreen ereader units from Amazon as well.
Nook for a Middle Schooler
The Nook Touch is a much less expensive tech choice for your tween. Not a replacement for the functionality of an iPad 2 by any means, still, the Nook Touch can provide a testing ground for your middle schooler, in terms of caring for tech gadgets. Nook Touch retails at $139, providing an inexpensive tech experience, when compared with an iPad.
Nook Color, however, does provide more of a tablet experience, at half the cost of a basic iPad 2. Retailing at $249, Nook Color includes enriched ereading, color display, web browsing and email, along with popular apps. It won't include the same music and camera aspects of the iPad, though it does incorporate a media player, but can be an introductory tool that allows that chance for your tween to demonstrate responsibility. Size will make it less of a concern, when it comes to the washing machine. Nook apps for the iPad mean that your investment in a Nook library won't be lost if you later transition your young person to an iPad.
Premium Tablet without a Premium Price?
Need a premium tablet for a middle schooler without a premium price? Kindle has downsized the screen while maintaining the action and experience of its best-selling table, the Fire HD. Your middle school student can use this for reading, viewing, game-play, web browsing, and more without the eye strain or cost of an iPod Touch. Ah, yes, and there's the option for music as well. The basic model is priced at $99 with 8GB memory, but for $20 more, you can have double the memory. You'll also love the fact that there are tween-friendly colors used in the construction of the case, making this a hot choice at a great price. Need something more advanced or more durable? You'll find the whole scope of the Kindle lineup listed as you explore any given model.