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Chanda Gohrani admin
Chanda Gohrani
Social media manager of
London, GB

4 experts and 7 parents have answered

Tamsin Oxford writer
Tamsin Oxford Professional writer and editor Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK

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...

4 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Holly Seddon admin
Holly Seddon Editor-in-chief of Kent, UK

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!

3 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Anthony Flower
Anthony Flower Father of three & web developer Christchurch, GB

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.

3 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Mark Dinsdale expert
Mark Dinsdale Schools ICT eSafety Advisor Merton, GB

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(!)

2 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Fact 3 years ago
TheBoy andMe
TheBoy andMe Parent Blogger, Teacher & Mum GB

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!).

2 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Richard Taylor expert
Richard Taylor Father of 4 boys & IT Consultant Bushmills, GB
Technology expert

I think it depends what the purpose of the device is for - your kids will struggle to type up homework on a tablet, but computers are very expensive and bulky. You need to think what the purpose of the device is.

In our house everyone has an iPad that is used for internet, email and games, and also a desktop PC in the corner of the living room that is used for typing up homework's.

2 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Adam Clark expert
Adam Clark Father of 5, ADHDer, Techy San Rafael, US
Technology expert

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.

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Experience 3 years ago

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).

1 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Paul Sutton
Paul Sutton I work in a school Torquay, GB

Computers don't need to be expensive I have a net top PC in a very small case and it cost me < 200 I think it as a very small footprint, and is quiet,, very quiet, and just sits on my desk in fact looking at it my monitor is about 3 x the size,

Look at e-buyer for nettops or similar small footprint computers. I don't have a optical device but I do have 4x usb slots (two free) so could plug in an external if need be.

I agree desktop PC for :


Gaming (big screens are good for strategy games)

coding and reading websites about code at the same time.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 2 years ago
Kristin Bennett McNeely
Kristin Bennett McNeely Techie Designer Mom Seattle, Washington

I plan to have a family desktop, which is at least in part because for my design work I like the screen at eye level too...and 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...

Thinking a little more about this...I use mostly my chromebook...I might just get them one of those. My Samsung one was only about $250...

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Chris Puttick expert
Chris Puttick CEO, chief assistant to the duck GB
E-safety expert

It depends on why you're considering either. If it's for distraction/entertainment then tablets are very good; they are also good for the consumption of educational content. The portability of a tablet will lend itself to private use though, so the latter is going to be hard to ensure.

But if you were looking for something that promoted learning as well, a more general purpose machine will be a better option. A cheap laptop is still a powerful computer and will enable them to learn a wider variety of skills while still doing everything a tablet does - and to create apps for tablets. Write software for PCs and smart phones, make websites, learn about different operating systems, write essays, books...

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Fact 2 years ago

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