Choosing an e-reader for your kids

Q: Is an e-reader a good gift for a child?

A: There are many educational benefits for kids who read on an electronic device-in fact thousands of schools across the country are using e-readers to help cultivate a love for reading and build literacy skills. Built-in dictionaries, read-aloud options, word games and access to a wide variety of reading materials online are just a few of the benefits.

For really young kids, an electronic learning toy can be a good choice. The InnoTab2 from VTech, for instance, features kid-friendly e-reading programs, along with a video camera, MP3 player, calendar and games. Designed for kids as young as 3, tech learning toys mimic traditional tablets, have a touch screen and retail for about .

Kids a little older may benefit from a basic e-reader like the Kindle or Nook. The Kindle Fire offers a scratch-resistant screen and games and apps from the Amazon AppStore for about 0. The Nook HD from Barnes& Noble costs about 0 and provides access to more than two million books, magazines and kids books.

Other e-readers include the Sony Reader, Kobo Touch and Kobo Mini. The iPad and iPad Mini can also serve as e-readers. How can you choose which is right for you child? Take a close look at these considerations when comparing gadgets:

  • Color appeal. While the Nook and Kindle both offer less expensive black and white display models, younger children especially will be interested in color displays. Consider how picture books and literacy games will be affected when deciding between black and white and color displays.
  • Filters. Most e-readers, like the Nook, Kindle Fire and iPad, have the ability to connect with the Internet and there is no perfect way to filter the content. While the iPad Mini offers the most extensive options of parental controls, Internet access can be password protected on most devices and Internet access can be turned off.
  • Price. How can you find the right fit for your child and get the best e-bang for your real-world buck? Consider whether kids can share readers, ask about student discounts and look out for retail coupons and rebates. Visit for a comprehensive list comparison of price, size and features.

Preparing for technology

Q Our kids will be receiving a lot of technology this
holiday season. Any tips for preparing?

A According to a study
released by the Consumer Electronics Association, mobile devices,
tablets and laptops, as well as other electronic gadgets, will be
the most desired gifts this holiday.

Nothing is more disappointing than an electronic gift that
doesn’t work. Parents can bypass a bummer by charging electronics
and trying out features a week or more before they give techie

Other steps to consider:

  • Update security. Introducing new technology
    may mean your kids now need access to your computer, the Internet
    or your Wi-Fi connection. Make sure to update parental controls.
    Take advantage of parental controls on video game consoles and
    electronic gadgets and block explicit songs on iTunes.
  • Give with boundaries. Avoid frustration by
    letting kids know the first day with technology is an extended
    limit day. Consider enclosing a small card with the extended play
    times written down to help manage kids’ expectations. After a few
    days return to your house tech time limit rules.
  • Have resources ready. From batteries to how-to
    blogs, make sure you have resources ready when giving an electronic
    gift. Bookmark manufacturer websites, read reviews, and stock up on
    batteries and chargers. Consider giving complementary accessories
    like screen protectors and gadget cases to keep new gifts clean and
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