So your daughter or son just reached 10 years old? Yeah, congratulations!
Well, that might also mean it's reached the point where you no longer want to share your work laptop for your child's school work and gaming exploits.
Or maybe their new school asks that all students bring a laptop to school or have one at home that matches those available in the classroom.
Whatever the reason, a 10-year-old with a laptop is hardly a rare phenomenon in the twenty-first century.
However, it can be pretty difficult to find the right machine for your daughter or son, especially with all the operating systems and styles available.
So, we've created this handy guide to help you find the right laptop for your child.
- If durability is a top priority, the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6" offers a 4ft safe zone for dropping, has a spill and crack resistant design, and runs on ChromeOS. It's a great choice for education.
- Need to be able to run Windows? The Acer Spin 1 (11.6") offers the versatility of a convertible laptop/tablet and a stunning 1080p screen. It's sure to get your son or daughter through the next couple years with no problems.
- For a laptop that will have the performance power to go with your child through even high school, though sacrificing some durability, is the New Apple 13" MacBook Air. It has all the specs you could need, but you'll need to make sure to treat it carefully. A protective case might be a good bet here.
Does Your Child Really Need It?
Not every 10-year-old needs their own laptop. If you already have a shared or family computer that seems to be meeting everyone's needs and is generally available when your child needs it, then you may want to hold off on getting a laptop until your child is in high school and needs something with considerable power.
However, if your family laptop isn't cutting it, or if you want to start introducing your child to electronic independence, a laptop is the perfect solution. Your child can work on their typing skills, do homework for school, and even take the computer to school or their friend's houses as needed.
While it won't have the processing power of most adult's working computers and may not play games at peak performance, there are plenty of laptops built for kids that will last several years and open many necessary doors.
Laptop for a 10-Year-Old: What to Consider?
Because children have smaller hands and less strength, it is ideal for them to have a smaller and lighter laptop that they can carry with ease. You shouldn't pick something larger than a 13" screen, and closer to 11" is more ideal. It also shouldn't weigh much above 3lbs unless you plan to keep it at home for the most part, since kids will struggle to transport it.
Kids aren't exactly walking models of care and delicacy, so it's important that a laptop is sturdy in order for it to last. Delicate glass screens aren't going to have a great lifespan, and you'll also want to look for a well-built shell to protect important interior components.
Children have different needs when it comes to a laptop. If it's primarily for schoolwork and web browsing, you'll only need minimal specs, such as 2-4GB of RAM. However, any attempts to use the machine for gaming or graphics-intensive programs will be problematic, and the laptops built for this purpose really aren't suited for 10-year-olds due to their price and delicacy. These purposes should be reserved for the family computer.
Chrome OS is the preferred operating system for most youth and educational laptops because it is near impossible to infect with a virus and the laptops are usually cheap. However, it cannot run most standard programs such as Microsoft Office, so if you plan to do anything that isn't web-based, you'll be better off with macOS or Windows.
3 Best Laptops for Your 10-year-old: Our Picks
Please note that all the laptops recommended below are our own opinions. They are hand-picked based on 1). the criteria listed above 2). our own using experience 3). reputation research we did, mostly gathering what other people say about the product.
If you like the idea of using a Chromebook, this one from Asus offers safety at drops less than 4 feet and can fold back to 180 degrees. These are frequently used in schools and can handle things such as writing essays or internet research.
- Cheap and durable, with reinforced rubber edges, and a spill-resistant keyboard that will survive any tipped over water bottles nearby.
- Gets up to 10 hrs of battery life.
- ChromeOS limits the use of many 3rd party apps.
Want to go for Windows? The Acer Spin 1 gives you Windows 10 on a 1080p screen available in 32 and 64 GB of storage. The 11.6" screen is great for kids who need something portable, and 4GB of RAM will have most educational programs running smoothly.
- 8 hours of battery life, 1080p screen, and convertible design that comes with a stylus.
- Runs on Windows 10 (meaning they'll have no problem using most software programs).
- No keyboard backlight, overly sensitive touchpad.
MacBooks are notoriously expensive and the sleek design almost screams "critical drop waiting to happen", but if your child needs a computer that can age well with them and still run great in 4 or 5 years, Mac has a corner on the market. Plus, there are tons of protective cases and you can always keep the computer at home rather than commuting anywhere with it.
- 8GB of RAM can run heavier programs and will make the computer last much longer than other models.
- Available in 128GB and 256GB models.
- On the pricier end of available laptops, more delicate.
Additional Tips and Tricks
A laptop is a powerful tool and one that should be used wisely. Sometimes kids can't always be trusted to do this, whether it's accidentally buying programs, installing viruses, or coming across inappropriate content. MacOS offers a robust parental controls feature that can help you moderate your child while online, which you can read about here.
Windows has similar features available, and this guide from LifeWire will show you how to use them in Windows 7, 8 and 10. Chromebooks are a bit tricker -- by their nature, it's hard to mess up with them in the first place. But, they don't have a built-in parental controls feature. You'll either need to buy something 3rd-party or set up a supervised user as detailed in this Howtogeek article.
It's also important that you stay educated on what healthy computer use looks like at various ages. As a parent, you always want to protect your child, so set some simple guidelines for their laptop use. For example, don't allow electronics for around 2 hours before bedtime since blue light emitted by screens is widely known to have negative effects on sleep patterns in kids and adults. About Kid's Health offers a great guide for getting started with healthy electronics usage.
Buying a laptop for your 10-year-old daughter (or son) is a strategic decision. It opens many new avenues for learning, play, and curiosity, but can be a confusing mystery of what you really do or don't need.
Hopefully, the advice in this article can help you determine what the best fit for your growing child is, and lead to a laptop that lasts you until your child is ready to take the next step up in terms of computing power and use.
Do you already use a certain laptop with your children? Leave us a comment below so we can hear what you have to say!
Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.