Computers For Kids: Tips On Buying Your Child His First PC
Your child has just told you what a fantastic computer his friend has. Then he asks you when you are buying a computer for him – and that’s where your problem starts. No (wired) parent can afford to delay their child’s introduction to computers and the vast world of the Internet indefinitely.
If you need to buy your kid a computer, but are new to this and leery of experimenting on such an expensive electronic device, you’ll benefit from these tips on buying a PC for your kid. Here are some tips on how to buy a PC for your kid:
Hard Facts About Hardware
The main components of a computer reside in the Central Processing Unit. The CPU comprises of the motherboard, the processor and the RAM. (The motherboard has an interesting history – originally dubbed as the hardboard, this name appeared too ‘masculine’ for some and gave way to ‘motherboard’.)
The motherboard houses all integral components of a computer – from the processor to the display card. The processor controls everything from the startup/shutdown process to the computer’s speed.
While buying a PC for your kid, you need to pay special attention to the motherboard and processor. Unlike the RAM and other accessories, you cannot upgrade these later on. You can buy a suitable motherboard within Rs 4000, but remember that any new hardware you buy has to be ‘installed’ on it.
It must be able to support emerging technological features and should not become obsolete for at least three to four years. That is asking for a lot, considering the generous leaps that technology is taking. Factor this in before you save money on the wrong end!
To get the best quality for your money, opt for an Intel genuine motherboard. This will cost you maybe Rs 500 more, but it is a good long-term investment.
TIP: AMD machines, marginally cheaper than Intel machines, are suitable alternatives.
You will need a monitor, keyboard and mouse suitable for your kid. If you intend to use the PC yourself, these will have to suit both you and your kid – so shop around together. For the record, the best bet is a TFT monitor, which offers a much higher degree of eye comfort than a basic CRT monitor. They are also lighter and less cumbersome.
The best monitor size for a growing child would be fifteen inches. A seventeen-inch TFT monitor offers panoramic visibility and higher resolution and costs just a bit more than a fifteen-inch version. However, for a young child this is just a cosmetic aspect. A wide-screen monitor is NOT mandatory in normal PC.
The most fascinating PC-based activities – games, interactive software and, of course, music and movies – for a growing child, feature a lot of sound effects. Your PC’s speakers should be able to handle them.
In terms of need-based quality, a 2.1 audio system is adequate for a computer for children. This features a woofer and two speakers – a non-negotiable configuration for movie-watching.
RAM And Graphics Support
A Random Access Memory (or RAM) of 1 GB is sufficient for a personal computer not intended for professional use. (Note: The RAM and processor decide how fast your computer processes its commands - this is significant only in a work situation. If this PC will be part of your home office as well, you, obviously need a larger RAM.)
Graphics cards are currently in vogue because of the gaming wave now sweeping India. GPUs (or Graphics Processing Units) are display card dedicated to computer gaming. However, you don’t need a heavy graphics card for a child up to ten years of age.
Your child will not be able to play ‘heavy’ games like Max Payne, Grand Theft Auto and others without it – but most of these games are better avoided at this age, in any case. The computer will still support any arcade or online game without a GPU.
Keyboard And Mouse
A basic keyboard and mouse will do for a child just beginning to explore the world of computers seriously. The optional ergonomic keyboard is once again a mere comfort aspect – they sure don’t work better than basic models.
Choose a scroll-laser type mouse, since these are more user-friendly and last a lot longer. Wireless keyboards and mice have seen some great enhancements, but their quality does NOT compare with that of traditional versions.
Quick Home PC Checklist:
- Intel Motherboard /AMD Motherboard
- Pentium Processor /AMD Processor
- 1 GB RAM. Latest technology – DDR2
- 80 Gigabyte Hard Disk (80 GB HDD)
- DVD Writer (these cost maybe five hundred rupees more than a DVD ROM. A Combo Drive is not required for first time users).
- 15 Inch TFT monitor
- Multimedia Keyboard/Laser Scroll Mouse.
What’s It Going To Cost?
The recommendations above are good for a computer that will last about three to four years without needing to be upgraded. However, the crux is in service and components availability.
You do NOT want to see your motherboard conk off only to discover that this particular model is no longer available. If that happens, you’ll end up buying a new model motherboard, along with a new model processor and even RAM.
These are cheaper (Rs. 25,000 to 40,000) than branded computers (Rs. 35,000 to 50,000) and have a better delivery timeframe – we’re talking of an order-today-deliver-tomorrow scenario here.
However, you’re on your own on repairs and support once an assembled computer leaves the shop. Moreover, the cost of branded computers has decreased a lot over the last couple of years.
Finally, parents are the best teachers and guardians that children will ever have. Buying a PC for your kid is a milestone for them. Make it count for you and your child.
Copyright © Roy Daniel D’Silva
This article may be reprinted with proper attribution to the author and a link back to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
Photo credit AKphotos