How Do I Choose the Best Gadgets for Kids?

Dan Cavallari

Many of the best gadgets for kids combine entertainment and education. Some specially designed laptops, for example, help kids learn how to type, how to use common computer functions, and how to navigate operating systems, all while entertaining the kids with games and activities. Other gadgets for kids are designed to make life easier for parents; specially designed harnesses can be affixed to the child, and a lead or leash can be attached to the harness so a parent can prevent a child from getting lost in a crowd.

Gadgets for kids may include microscopes.
Gadgets for kids may include microscopes.

Classic gadgets for kids include microscopes, magnifying glasses, and butterfly nets. These items encourage them to get outside, be active, and learn about the environment around them. While many kids have strayed from such classic toys and gadgets, more modern gadgets for kids focus on much of the same activities: portable microscopes that can be tucked into a child's pocket have become popular, as have bug collection kits. Some toy kits come with safe tools that can encourage a child to do an archaeological dig in the backyard, complete with a rock hammer, shovel, and safety goggles.

There are many types of laptops and computers available, some of which have been designed specifically for children.
There are many types of laptops and computers available, some of which have been designed specifically for children.

As the popularity of the Internet has grown, so too has the availability of digital gadgets for kids. MP3 players often do more than just play music; they might have games and even movies that can entertain kids on long drives or rainy days. Laptop computers can contain games, activities, and learning programs. Even mobile devices such as cell phones contain games and activities kids can enjoy.

It is important that gadgets for young children don't have small parts that can pose a choking hazard.
It is important that gadgets for young children don't have small parts that can pose a choking hazard.

The building blocks of the past have become more sophisticated, and many building block sets come with small engines that can be mounted on machines the child builds himself. These blocks can be interactive and fun, but they also teach the child about spatial relations, mathematics, and other skills necessary for healthy mental development. Logic and reasoning skills can be improved by using such kits as well.

Many gadgets for kids simply mimic gadgets for adults. Some types of cameras, for example, function just like any other digital camera, but the cameras for kids feature simpler menus, larger buttons, and durable, shockproof shells that will resist damage from drops and other impacts. Some cameras even have video capabilities, allowing the child to create his or her own short movies. These cameras may or may not feature external memory cards; they are most often not included because they can pose a choking hazard.

Magnifying glasses are a classic choice for kids.
Magnifying glasses are a classic choice for kids.

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Discussion Comments


There is such a wide range of cool gadgets for kids, it can be hard to know which ones to buy. No matter how technical many of them become, I don't think kids will ever get tired of bug or butterfly kits.

I have two boys and one girl and they can spend hours outside with these gadgets. The boys love collecting bugs and looking at them under a microscope. My daughter is fascinated with catching and observing butterflies.

They have their electronic gadgets too, but I find it very refreshing when they love playing with something that is simple, and encourages them to spend time outdoors.


I wish they had some of the new cool spy gadgets for kids when my son was growing up. He was always fascinated with spy gear and was very creative at coming up with some of his own spy gadgets.

I guess you can look at this more than one way. Because he didn't have all the gadgets they have today, he was forced to used his creativity, which is a good thing.

I don't think he ever outgrew his love for these gadgets because he loves buying these for his son toady. Sometimes I wonder if they are more for himself than his son!

I think the best gadgets are those that focus on both entertainment and education. If they encourage them to learn and be creative, I think the money spent on them is well spent.


@sunshined-- It is amazing what kids can pick up and learn from the educational toys, but I understand what you are saying. My kids seem to get bored using them after awhile if they are just using them alone.

I certainly think there is a time and place for the electronic gadgets. Many times I have seen kids playing a game on a cell phone while they are sitting and waiting somewhere.

Recently we sat through a long graduation ceremony, and having something like this to keep the kids occupied was a good thing not only for the parents, but also for those people sitting around them.


I think a lot of the new gadgets for kids are useful and creative, but I also think that they can't take the place of personal interaction.

My kids have educational computers that they use, but they still get the most out of it if an adult is there helping them with it. Sometimes I get so busy it is easy to expect the computer or an educational TV show to do the work.

That is when I need to take a break and realize there is nothing as important as spending quality time with them and working with them instead of relying on a gadget to teach them.

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