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Tips for Choosing and Using A Kids Camcorder
A Kids Camcorder for a Little Learning and a Lot of Fun
Small children love to imitate their parents and older siblings. Using electronic devices such as cell phones, cameras, and camcorders is one way of doing this. The good news is that kids can also learn a lot by mastering and using such devices. Attention, concentration, memory, and other cognitive skills are among the abilities that can grow while having fun learning the art of home movie making.
A kids camcorder can be found to fit nearly any budget and be designed to accommodate the physical and mental skills of a child from age 5 and upward. This page will give you a few tips for choosing one, show you some of the best choices out there, and guide you toward some suggested activities.
Picking Out a Kids Camcorder
Here are a couple of things to think about when getting a camcorder for the youngest kids:
- If the child is 10 years or younger, then you probably want something with an easy to grip design to avoid dropping. Certainly something a bit more rugged is a good idea in case of a drop.
- Large buttons and simple operation is key, the youngest of users don't need multiple shooting modes, extensive editing, and manual controls for focusing, lighting and so forth.
- Kids camcorders for children under 8-10 are generally toys and won't offer high resolution video, optical zoom, or other higher end features. Digital zoom is common however and can give young kids the opportunity to get more creative.
- Most kids and parents want the ability to view videos on TV, so getting a camcorder that offers a connection to the TV can be important.
- Like any digital camcorder or camera, these devices consume a great deal of battery power. Certainly AA batteries are easy to buy, but rechargeable ones will save a good deal of cash over time.
- The basic kids camcorders for the youngest children often have poorer performance in low light settings; doing better outdoors than indoors. Some do offer a light however in an effort to allow indoor recording.
- Think about memory. Obviously, children like adults, want to be able to record for a while before downloading images. Having 32MB of built in memory is good, but an SD card expansion slot that will accommodate 1GB or more of additional storage will save a lot of hassles.
- Nearly all kids camcorders come with an LCD screen, the flip out version however provides easier viewing.
If you're thinking about a camcorder for a kid that is over 10 years old consider some of these things:
- There are a number of economical options that provide pretty nice video quality. Such devices are not toys. These camcorders are highlighted for kids due to their affordability, ease of use, super portable size, and easy uploading to internet sharing sites.
- If they want to be more creative, then editing software becomes more critical and should be considered when making a purchase.
- Be sure the camcorder selected will be compatible with their computer and includes a USB arm or USB cable for easy downloading. Certainly WiFi is another option for easy connectivity, but that will drive up cost.
- When choosing a camcorder for an older kid, looking at the memory is critical. Being able to film for at least an hour before having to download is desirable. VGA quality filming at 30fps or better provides decent looking video and having zoom and image stabilization features are pluses. But certainly 720p or 1070p would be ideal if your kid is really an enthusiast.
- If you have a more creative high school student that will be doing more extensive editing and creative filming then a kids camcorder may mean going to a budget conscious but full sized, full featured camcorder.
If you have young children, you'll obviously need to cover some basics before turning them loose with their new camcorder.
- Be sure to cover how to hold and handle the camcorder to assure it isn't mishandled. How to grip it, lay it down, how to turn it on and off, how to record and so forth.
- Be sure they understand it should be kept dry, clean, and so forth. They need to know how to store it and potentially how to change the batteries.
- They can begin to learn the basics of how to frame a shot, when to zoom and when not to zoom, how close is close enough and how close is too close.
- They can learn a bit about lighting; how to get more lighting when needed and how to avoid looking into the sun.
- How to avoid filming in too much noise and how to avoid making too much noise themselves when filming.
- As they grow, kids can also learn much more: panning, uploading, editing and so forth. By the time they're in their teens there are a number of books that can help them master filming techniques and more.
Activities for Kids
With a kids camcorder, a child can film just about anything. They can make a movie about:
- a birthday party
- a visit to grandma's
- a vacation
- a day in a pet's life (or a consenting sibling)
- an older sibling's big game, graduation, recital, etc.
- wildlife in the back yard or a park
- an instructional video on baking chocolate chip cookies the right way
- acting out and filming a favorite story or part of a favorite book or movie
As they get a bit more mature they can devise and film:
- interviews to film with family, neighbors, or friend
- a newscast
- write a story/script and make a short film
- make a film for a younger sibling (a funny story, something instructional based on something they have learned, etc.)
For those who are more ambitious, there are tools online that can help as well. If your kid wants to really get into film, Mini Movie Makers might be a good place to start. They can learn about the do's and don'ts of film making, visual effects, sound effects and much more. They can even join the video club and share their creations.
If they want to delve deeper into video editing Movie Maker discusses the tools they might need.
Of course parents may be interested in Common Sense Media recommendations on the topic. You can see what other parents have to say about various kids oriented editing apps and you'll discover some fun options too.