Should we bother get our kids a desktop computer, or go straight to tablet?
I wouldn't get a desktop computer for either myself or my children ever again. Bulky, expensive and old-fashioned. My eldest and youngest have tablets, in my eldest's case this gives the flexibility to take it to school when needed and it's far less cumbersome than her old laptop. She can download many more useful apps than she could buy software for a laptop.
In my youngest's case, all the security settings (in-app purchases etc) are turned up to 11. My middle one has laptop and games console but when he goes to secondary school, he too will have a tablet. But as Mark Dinsdale says in his answer, laptops and tablets can be used away from the rest of the family, which can increase risk. However, this is down to the rules of the home. Tablets aren't allowed in bedrooms in our house, they are used in shared family spaces just as a desktop would be. Just without the ugly grey boxes taking up space in our dining room!
I'm a PC loving dinosaur and cannot conceive of a tablet taking its place. Where would I game? What would I stub my toe on at 10pm? When else would I wear a headlamp at swear at the bowels of metal, plastic and fibre? My daughter has a netbook and will be upgraded to her own desktop when it is time. I may sob a bit if she asks for a tablet instead...
I would imagine for homework a desktop or laptop are essential. We have a couple of iPads but I wouldn't do my work on them unless it was the last resort. I'm much happier sat infront of a proper computer and any significant amount of typing is much easier on a proper physical keyboard.
My kids are only young so the iPad is perfect for schooling but as they get older and have bigger assignments to write up I will either get them a desktop or a laptop to use.
I'd get a desktop so that you can see what your kids are doing in in living room, so that you can supervise them. Laptops and tablets can be used anywhere, especially if they have a webcam.
(Not sure what age your kids are?) But I'll relate a story:
There was a child on Skype talking to somebody she had never met before and he was trying to find out all about her. But she wasn't giving anything away. He zoomed into the back wall of her bedroom where there was a Ballet Certificate and read the name of the school. He phoned the school pretending to be a parent and asked what time the ballet class finished.
He was outside waiting for the girl to come out of school. Thankfully a CEOP officer was in the chat room where he had been talking about the girl and he was arrested immediately.
But that's not always going to happen(!)
We've just ditched our desktop because we don't have the space for it, and it was too slow. My husband and I have each got a work laptop, in addition to our personal family one, and we have an iPad. A tablet is a great learning device but I do think that children need to have home access to a conventional computer as well, either through a laptop or a desktop, because schools have both, and work environments in the future will have both (potentially!).
I would recommend a laptop first, perhaps coupled with a tablet. There are still many things a tablet, like an iPad, cannot do well. For instance, tablets are not great at helping you create content (writing a lot, video editing, advanced video editing, etc). Tablets are generally good at letting you consume content or play games or doing basic creation. Also, they still are a ways off from replacing many enterprise type software - even cloud software. Laptops are every much as powerful as most desktops, so they are a great option. And think laptops like the Macbook Air, the Acer Ultrabook, etc are really light and almost small as a large tablet now.
On a more personal note, one of my frustrations as a teacher/adviser of technology is that while kids are learning to be users of apps, they are generally not learning higher-level computing skills or knowledge that I think is crucial. They take technology for granted, don't appreciate truly amazing functionality and the evolution of it, and they lack the respect they need to make great decisions with how to use it.
Those whom I work with that use technology the best are those that understand more advanced software, operating system functionality, etc. It's kind of like the difference between having a kid be able to play with a fancy remote control car versus a go-cart. The remote control care becomes all about the remote control and is all about a few buttons to get a job done. The go-cart has more power, can go further, faster, and requires a higher level of maintenance, respect, and understanding of how the actual vehicle works. In my experience, those who still use full computers (laptop or desktop), tend to be further along and have a better ability to learn new technologies and technology concepts.
The kids have a laptop and desktop but WE own the tablets. Kids get use of the tablet when needed, but it is too "available" and it belonging to us, as parents, keeps more security on what they can do on it since they have to ask fur use. Other computers stay in common areas (no bedroom computers).
I plan to have a family desktop...as I think handwriting is important I believe learning to type is important too, and touch-typing requires keys to touch. Sure they can type on a tablet too after that but I think it makes sense...
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