Pros & Cons of Buying Your Child an iPod Touch for Christmas

Ipod_touch
In recent years technology has become an entire sub-section on kids’ Christmas wish list. Requests for remote controlled cars and dolls have been replaced by wishes of iPods and laptops. When the holiday season rolls around this year and your child asks for an iPod Touch, what will you say? Before scoffing at the notion of a $300 music player, take a look at this compilation of pros and cons to buying your child an iPod Touch for Christmas.

Pros:

Access to Educational Apps: Sure, your youngster probably isn’t going to sit down on Christmas morning and hit up the iTunes store for the latest and greatest educational apps. However, the great part is that there are so many available. Apps focusing on every subject; spelling, reading, math, history, geography are all available to help your child learn beginning at the pre-school age. While it may be difficult to get little Susie to sit down with a set of flashcards, kids are likely more inclined to practice for that math test when they get to do it on their iPod Touch.

Portable Entertainment: Long car rides, flights and waits at the doctor’s office can get downright boring for growing minds. The portability of the iPod Touch allows kids to bring their favorite game, book or spelling practice right along with them. I would suspect far fewer cries of “are we there yet?” with an iPod Touch in the hands of young travelers.

Suitable for Adults: The nice thing about the iPod Touch as a gift for your child, is that the device has so many functionalities that there’s no reason mom & dad can’t borrow it sometimes, too! Other handheld gaming consoles may let you do little other than play games. And we all know that you don’t have time for Mario Kart, Mom.  However, with the iPod touch parents can find use in apps to get directions, make restaurant reservations, manage calendars or simply play games that appeal to them.

Built-In Parental Controls: The iPod Touch features a number of parental controls that allow moms & dads to easily restrict the content that their children can view on their iPod Touch. With just a few taps of the screen parents can restrict the ratings of available material, whether or not the child can make purchases from the iTunes store, and limit access to web content. All restrictions are locked with a four digit pass code so that settings can’t  be changed without it.

Music On The Go:  Music is a major part of the tween/teen culture. Be it Miley Cyrus or Fall Out Boy that gets your youngster’s head bopping, iPod Touch is the premier portable music device. Kids can rock out and dance in their rooms with headphones on, or with many new vehicles featuring iPod adapters, they can share their music in the car. Even though I like my iPod Touch for the apps and WiFi access, I love it for the music. That is, after all, what the iPod was intended for.
Cons:

Price: In the Apple store, as of September 2010 iPod Touch pricing started at $229.00 for the 8GB model. Subsequently, retail for the 16 GB iPod Touch sat at $299.00, with the 64 GB model selling for $399.00. Regardless of the configuration that you may choose to purchase, two to four hundred dollars is a good chunk of money to spend on a single Christmas gift. If you choose to move forward with your iPod Touch purchase, be sure that your child understands the value of the item and treats it with great care.

Techno Overload: Between computers, iPods, iPads, iPhones, gaming consoles, television and every other gadget known to man, kids are exposed to a wide array of technology throughout their day. Before purchasing an iPod Touch for your child this Christmas, consider whether or not they already spend too much time with their eyes glued to a screen. Although devices like the iPod Touch can offer stellar educational opportunities, as parents we still need to create a balance between time engaged in technology, and time spent running around…like a kid.

Fragility: True story. Last year for Christmas my husband surprised me with an iPod Touch. Exactly two weeks after Christmas, he was sitting in the living room playing with my iPod when somehow he accidentally dropped the iPod Touch directly into his glass of milk. And it ceased to work. A 30 year old man very accidentally killed one of these devices in less than two weeks, so I have no doubt that children are capable of doing so as well. Establish rules for the device: don’t use it near food or drink, always leave it in the same spot, don’t run around with it and don’t let your husband play with it. Durable cases, screen savers and warranties can be life savers in protecting an iPod Touch.

Easy to lose: An iPod Touch is smaller than your average remote control. And we all know how often those go missing. Unfortunately, unlike a cell phone, if your child loses his iPod Touch, there is no way to call it and locate it via the ringing. Owning an iPod Touch requires a child to be responsible for where his or her belongings are. While being easy to misplace may be a downfall, there is educational value to be had in a youngster learning to keep track of valuable items.

 

In the long run, whether or not you decide to purchase your child an iPod Touch for Christmas, their birthday or another special occasion should be based on the individual child. While every device has pros and cons, consider whether or not your child is responsible enough to own an expensive, fragile piece of equipment. Think about your ability to monitor personal technology and set rules regarding usage as soon as the iPod Touch enters the house: when it can be used, what it can be used for and what the consequences are for improper use.

Whether you decide now, or a couple years from now, is the proper time to allow your child to have his or her very own iPod Touch is up to you. However, when the time does come, expect to be showered with squeals and hollers of delight!