Several people have asked me about electronic Christmas gifts. "Kindle Fire or iPod touch?" "LeapPad or iPad?" "What else is out there that would help my kids?"
I'm not going to try to give the positives and negatives of each product; I simply do not know enough about each product. However, I do know the iPad and iPod touch. I've spent the last five months learning how to operate the iPad effectively. I've learned a lot about secret hidden tips for operating the iPad effectively; I've learned how to use iTunes without going crazy. And...maybe most importantly, I've learned about applications that will make life more managable for kids.
This is why I would buy my kids an iPod Touch or iPad for Christmas:
1. The apps are better. I have a droid phone, and although I love having a smartphone, the apps do not compare to the apps in the Apple App Store. Not to mention there are hundreds of thousands of apps.
2. Kindle is an app. It is actually a free app available on any device. If you purchase Kindle books from Amazon, you can read them, book mark them, and take notes in them from any device. The books cost money, but the app is free for as many devices as you want. All you need to do is download it. If you are going to read digital books, I recommend picking one "store" and "app" to purchase your books from because it will help you keep them organized. I prefer Kindle because of its vast array of books and its availability on every device. If you have a social justice aversion to Amazon, Kindle is not for you. iBooks is another choice, but I can't get my iBooks on my Droid phone.
3. iCloud is here. All that means is that there is really NO reason to spend the extra money for extra storage on the iPod touch or iPad. 16 GB will be sufficient for the typical person. You can store apps, documents, pictures, videos, and music in the cloud when you don't need them. When you want something that is stored in the cloud, it is a quick download.
4. Tracking the lost or stolen device is possible. There are lots of security settings that can be set, but allowing the iPad to track location is the most important if you worry about it being lost or stolen. Although some question if the location tracking is a violation of privacy, and to be honest, I don't think anyone wants to know where I am badly enough to waste their time looking for me. I am reassured that if my iPad walks off unintentionally with someone leaving my classroom, I will be able to track it with GPS. Even those times when it is lost in the couch cushions can be helped with the tracking service because you can actually make the device make a sound. It works just like calling your phone from another one. Don't kid yourself, you have totally called yourself when you couldn't find your phone! Regardless of how responsible your children are, they might misplace the device. Knowing it can be found is a good feeling.
5. The intuitive device crosses all age groups. My three year old can maanuever between apps just as well as my 6 year old. Not to mention, my three year old can work on his speech articulation and then be rewarded by an age appropriate game. I still monitor screen time, but the point is, if my kids have screen time, this is the screen I prefer them to have.
6. Affordability of the apps is important. I would never buy another hand held gaming system again. I purchased Leapsters a few years back, and they were perfect, BUT the games were $25 a piece. Depending on the games, DSI games are even more expensive. That is crazy! The iPad/iTouch games range in price greatly, but $25 will go along ways in games purchases!
7. Battery life rocks on the Apple devices. The Leapsters I bought earlier take a lot of AA batteries. The new LeapPad still takes batteries too.
8. A lot of capabilities in one device steals the show. Internet. Gaming. Music. Organization. Digital Reader. Texting. Yes, texting. There are apps that allow you to text and instant message people using Wi-fi. It is the perfect solution for those pre-teen kids who really want a cell phone. Ultimately they want texting capability, and the iTouch will serve the purpose as long as you have Wi-fi at your home.
9. One account for multiple devices makes apps affordable. Once you figure out iTunes, you will be able to sync up to five devices on the one account. That means you don't need to pay for apps multiple times. I would not give your iTunes password to your children, and if you do, I would not populate the credit card option in the set up. You will need iTunes or App Store giftcards to avoid putting your credit card in, but that is better than allowing your children to buy 100 $.99 apps or songs.
10. There's an app for that. I can not even begin to list the most important apps, but I assure you that these devices will prove to be far more than music and gaming devices. I'll blog before the holidays about important "school" apps that will make your kids appreciate the device more than they realize at this moment.
Hope this helps someone out there. I don't work for Apple, but the iPad and iPod Touch are seriously the best pieces of technology since the invention of the Kitchen Aid Mixer.