Buying your teenager an iPad vs a Computer


by John Paulus

Today’s high-schoolers rely heavily on technology, such as the iPad, to study for school. In fact, using an iPad to study for school is becoming an increasingly popular option, and gaining ground on traditional tech tools (such as a computer). While it an idea world a teenager would probably have access to not only a computer but any number of iDevices, many families can’t plunk down the cash to provide all of the available tools. In many cases, you may need to decide between an iPad to study for school and a computer.

Here are some things to consider when making the decision between an iPad and a computer to study for school:

  • With the iPad, study becomes much more portable than with a computer. While it’s true that laptops are generally convenient (especially the so-called “netbooks,”) the fact is that you generally need a flat surface like a table or a desk to use them. The iPad doesn’t require such a surface.
  • When you study with the iPad for school, you generally have better readability than with a computer. The screen design and e-reader applications for the iPad make it much easier to flip through electronic textbooks than it is with a computer. Reading PDF files is faster, and browsing the web is, in many cases, easier as well.
  • Word processing and other office applications are limited with the iPad. If your child needs to be able to create PowerPoint presentations or edit files using Microsoft Word or Excel, they aren’t going to be able to do it on the iPad. While there are compatible office apps for the iPad, they are significantly limited in what they can do when compared with the full office suite. In this case, cloud based services such as Google docs would be a great alternative.
  • Internet capabilities are somewhat limited on the iPad. The Safari browser won’t run Flash applications, so many educational websites just won’t work. On the other hand, if you choose the iPad with 3G, your teenager can get to the Internet in more places than she usually can with just a laptop (unless, of course, she has a smartphone with tethering capabilities).
  • Printing is limited, as well. Just because you use the iPad to study for school doesn’t mean you can produce school work on it. While there are some third-party apps that may allow you to print from your iPad, these are clunky, at best. Apple is promising native print capabilities in a future release of iOS, but as of today no such functionality exists.
  • While the iPad may be great for studying for school, it isn’t going to do everything your teenager wants it to do. There is a good chance your teenager would like to be able to play certain computer games or run other types of applications that you just can’t run on the iPad. On the other hand, providing your teenager with an iPad rather than a computer does help reduce the risk that she’ll spend all of her school study time playing games, rather than studying.

It’s not an easy decision to make, to be sure. The key is talking to your teenager about using the iPad to study for school, and determining whether it’s truly a tool he’s going to use, and use effectively, or whether a computer might be a better way to go.

Are you a teenager who owns an iPad? Do your kids own iPads? What do you think, please leave us a comment.


Photo Courtesy of by danielfoster437