With parents across the country kept inside, faced with turning their homes into both classrooms and offices, many are finding that sharing a laptop with kids is no longer an option, if it ever was to begin with.
At some point, kids really want, and eventually need, a laptop of their own to do homework, play games, watch YouTube videos, or pursue any number of other creative interests.
One easy solution to this is Chromebooks. But why Chromebooks?
Small Hands, Small Screens
Children have small hands and while a smaller device can be annoying for an adult, it's actually a better fit for a child. With a smaller screen and keyboard, everything is within easy reach, and it’s much lighter and easier for them to carry around. This may help avoid accidental dropping.
Anywhere from an 11-14 inch screen is ideal, especially for younger children.
Typing is a Necessary Skill
Your child may have mostly used a tablet up until now and may not have good keyboard skills. A touch screen will ease the transition towards typing. Chromebooks provide a good medium with both options available, encouraging the development of essential skills.
As children get older they are very likely to be required to be able to use a conventional PC or laptop with a traditional keyboard; and if they can only use a touch screen device they are likely to be at a distinct disadvantage.
In looking for a device for a child under 12, durability is extremely important because kids tend to drop things. You probably also don't want to spend a lot of money in case it does fall on the floor and crack in half.
It’s always a good idea to choose a Chromebook that’s designed to withstand bumps, bruises, and the occasional liquid spill. And it’s a requirement if your child will be carrying their Chromebook around the home or to school.
It’s good to look for water-resistant keyboards, keys with anti-wear tops, and non-slip chassis textures or coatings. Many Chromebooks are coming out with some degree of military-grade drop protection, water resistance, and spill-proof keyboards.
Safety and Protection On the Tech Level
You don’t need to buy any software such as anti-virus programs because the Chrome Operating System is browser-based and not stored within the machine itself.This makes them extremely popular with parents and educators because they're easy to use and hard to infect with malware. This means that there are no drivers to update, and no sluggish antivirus software suites to buy and maintain.
Safety and Protection On the Parent Level
Chromebooks can be very kid-friendly. Google is adding Chrome OS support for Family Link, the company's parental control service for Android devices.
If you use your child's Family Link credentials to sign into the Chromebook, you will be asked to sign in to the parental account linked to Family Link for approval. A prompt will explain what your child will have access to, and perhaps more importantly, what will be blocked.
With the account added, your child can use the Chromebook, with some restrictions. Access to the Chrome Web Store and Play Store is blocked, as well as incognito mode in Chrome.
You can choose to manually allow or block certain sites, or enable a filter to automatically block mature sites.
If you block a certain site, your child will have to ask for parental permission to visit it. You'll get a notification in the Family Link app where you can approve or deny their request.
You can also choose what apps your child can use on their Chromebook and what permissions your child provides to those apps.
Chromebooks Can Do Many Different Things
Chromebooks are now a staple in classrooms, with many school districts issuing them to students at little or no direct cost. Paired with specialized apps like Google Classroom, they’re used for everything from pop quizzes to virtual art-museum visits, and features handy for educators, such as plagiarism detection.
The process of installing apps is much like installing apps on your smartphone, involving little more than a visit to the Google Play Store or the Chrome Web Store. There you will find a considerable library of kid-friendly apps. In addition to games, there are tools for note-taking, podcasting, book publishing, drawing, screencasting, and other 21st-century schoolwork.
There are also hundreds of apps in the Chrome Web Store that will work offline, including all the major productivity programs. This dramatically expands the potential of what you can do with a Chromebook.
For Those That Love Touch Screens
Convertible Chromebooks with 360-degree hinges include a physical keyboard but can still be used as a tablet if needed. They will have a touch-enabled screen by necessity, since their keyboards aren’t always at hand.
Since Chromebooks are available as both laptops and tablets, you can choose to interact with them through either the trackpad/mouse or touch input with the touchscreen.
Kids Can Stay Busy All Day Without Needing Help
1: Chromebooks have massive battery lives, ranging from 8-12 hours on a single charge. This enables your child to continue working or playing without needing any assistance to recharge.
2: Rather than getting a notification that updates are waiting to be installed, new software is automatically downloaded in the background. Once it's downloaded, it'll be installed the next time the Chromebook is reset or turned off. This allows your child to keep working or playing without interruptions or the need for assistance.
3: Press the power button, log into your Google account, and you’re in. Close the lid when you’re done, reopen it later, and you’re right back in. There are no difficulties signing in or getting set up.
4: Your children don’t need to run the most powerful productivity apps. They aren’t set in their computing ways. Between home, school and the library, they’ll rarely encounter a situation where there’s no WiFi to be found. There should be no problems with setting them up and letting them run with a Chromebook without any additional help.
From Laptop to Tablet and Back Again
Several Chromebooks could well be called 4-in-1’s, as they can be used in four different ways: as a traditional laptop, a tablet, a tent mode, and stand setup.
Most Chromebooks offer the traditional laptop design, many of which are 2-in-1s. You can use them as a laptop when you need to type for awhile, but when it's time to relax and play some games, the touchscreen can be folded all the way back and the Chromebook essentially turns into a tablet.
Since Chromebooks are available as laptops and tablets, you can choose how you want to interact with them. This added flexibility allows you to use a Chromebook exactly how you want to, because using a mouse is often preferable and more productive for certain tasks, as are the robust keyboard shortcuts available for Chrome OS, while for other activities, it’s far nicer to have the tablet capabilities.
Won’t Hurt Your Wallet
Many Chromebooks cost between $200 and $400, so when your kids knock their laptop off the arm of the couch and break the screen, it won’t be quite so painful. This also makes it more possible to buy one for each child, and not chance the inevitable arguments over sharing.
Here are several links to Chromebooks that might be what you're looking for: