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Education Portables Hardware

Computer For a Child? 556

Posted by samzenpus
from the start-them-young dept.
jameswing writes "I am thinking of buying a UMPC, such as an Eee PC or a Wind for my son, and wanted to get input from Slashdot. He is almost 2 and really curious about our computers, and anything electronic. I want to foster this in him, without having him on my desktop or laptop. I also don't really like the idea of getting one of those cheap 'Learning Laptops' that have a tiny screen and are really limited. Does anybody have one that they use with their children? How sturdy is it? Will it stand up to a 2-year-old? If not, what are good alternatives? What are your thoughts? Suggestions?"
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Computer For a Child?

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  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:41AM (#25908511) Homepage

    Your son is not a prodigy. At "nearly 2" he's about ready for playing "What sound does this animal make?" games. With you though, not with some electronic babysitter.

    This question is nonsensical. Come back in 3 years, and we can talk.

    • by g253 (855070) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:53AM (#25908589) Homepage
      You're absolutely right of course. This kid's not interested in "anything electronic", he's interested in anything that goes "ping" or flashes pretty lights.
      A toy laptop with only a spelling game on it is not limited if the kid is unable to spell, is it?

      Wait until he can hold a pencil and write his name with it. Then consider getting him a computer.
      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:01AM (#25908653)

        There are a few games for OS X designed for

        Baby Safe II [bestshareware.net]
        # Teaches the numbers and the alphabet with spoken words as the toddler presses keys.
        # Displays pictures of flowers and animals at random or when the space key is pressed.
        # Displays geometric shapes at random and when the mouse is clicked.

        Baby Banger [goodeast.com]
        Baby Banger fills the screen with a large white window where randoms sounds and shapes are displayed for young children to look at and identify. It can even speak the name of the shapes being displayed. The source code is included in the download.

        I'm sure there are Linux equivalents.

      • by kbrasee (1379057) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:09AM (#25908709) Homepage

        he's interested in anything that goes "ping"

        Well, teach him how to use ping then...

      • by canUbeleiveIT (787307) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:25AM (#25908835)
        I suspect that is I were to use the OP's definition of being interested in "anything electronic," one of our dogs would fit it. Of course, she also eats her own poop.
      • by GIL_Dude (850471) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:30AM (#25908875) Homepage
        Exactly. What we did with our kids at 2 and 3 was sit them on our laps at our computer and put on a counting game or spelling game. I think their first counting one was "Amy Fun 2 3" which was a DOS program (OK, so I am old). Eventually, as they got a bit older (5, 6) we let them have that computer and I got a new one for me.

        The parent and GP are totally correct. A 2 year old needs GUIDED learning, not "here's a small computer, go play".
        • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:30PM (#25909401)

          When I was a child we had an old machine my dad had salvaged from the skip at work, when I was about 3 I started playing a simple maths game, I don't know whether it was my sister or parents who first put me playing it but I remember the game well.

          It had a list of different games with counting and memory stuff, the one I remember best was the addition game.
          It printed up something like "5+3=" in big primary coulors on a blue background with 5 baloons below the 5 and 3 baloons bellow the 3 etc. Hell the answer would never be more than 9 so there was only a handful of different sums.

          It had a fairly awful voice synth which would speak the question and and then if you got it correct you'd get one of 4 or 5 silly complements "That's fantastic!" "great!" etc etc
          Perfect for kids in other words.

          It kept score in the bottom right corner with how many answers you'd got correct.
          I'd sit in front of it for hours enthralled. My mother relates how I used to proudly march into the kitchen at age 3 and 4 and announce "I've got half a hundred!" "I've got a hundred!" etc

          I'd love to find a copy of this or some updated version with better sound as it really was fantastic. Hell I'd be half tempted to write my own version of it if I ever had kids of my own.

          I learned math before I ever learned how to read or write with a pencil. It was dull in school when we were being taught basic math and I was bored because the class was trying to understand the concept of plus and minus. But it put me ahead in math and once you're ahead it's easy to stay ahead.

          I owe a great deal to that game and my family for sitting me in front of it. If anyone knows what this is called or where to find it I'd love to know who the dev was so I can thank them.

          At the same time I wish my dad had sat down with me at a young age and taught me how to code a little.
          He tended to hand me manuals which while fine for students tends to be a bit of a hurdle when you don't understand most of the words on the first page and get discouraged.

      • by phoomp (1098855) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:32AM (#25908883)
        Exactly. A UMPC is way overkill for a 2yr old. When my daughter was 3, I was spending a lot of time working at home on my laptop. She was obsessed with it and insisted on pounding on the keyboard while I was working on it. To keep her from pounding on my shiny new laptop, I decided to get a toy laptop for her. Shopping around, I found many in the $60 range. Then I spotted an old used laptop for $30 and got that instead and put a bunch of kid-friendly software onto it. Kids don't need the latest and greatest, unless you're looking for an excuse to get the latest and greatest. Most software for kids still runs on 486 processors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Keith_Beef (166050)

          Or get a strong "kiddy keyboard".

          http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&search-alias=electronics&field-keywords=kids%20computer%20keyboard&page=1

          K.

        • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#25909101) Homepage

          My ex-girlfriend has a daughter (several, actually). Back when we were together and the daughter was 4 or 5, she would sit there, hit keys at random and then I had to pronounce what she had just typed. She (and I, I suppose) had a lot of fun that way. That was *her* idea of a computer game. Then she started reconfiguring Windows 98 by hitting random key combinations. That got old fast.

          I can't believe the o.p. is serious. No-one wants to tie an almost-2-year-old to a computer. Someone is having fun seeing how the Slashdot crowd react to something that crazy, seeing if anyone takes it seriously. Bingo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        ...he's interested in anything that goes "ping" or flashes pretty lights.

        Also don't forget that kids love to imitate what they see the people around them doing, in this case the parents.

        I agree with the grandparent though that a computer isn't something you should buy for a 2 year old: Just get off your own computer and play games: Much better for the development of their brains/body imho.
        He/she still has plenty of years left to fudge about with computers; But you'll never ever have the chance again t
      • by pato101 (851725) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:19PM (#25909779) Journal
        This kid is interested in being with her dad. It is hard to keep up being with your childhood because we adults are very busy, and children always will be willing to playing with you.
        So... my point is, go buy an eee for yourself if your really wish it, and share your time with your son/daughter. Since one of the things you can do is playing a bit with the machine, go on.
        Perhaps the real question is "How can I convince my wife to let me buy yet another gadget?"
    • by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:58AM (#25908629)

      I don't think it was necessary to be that rude to the guy. Maybe his child *IS* a prodigy. You don't know.

      That said, 2 is a bit young to be buying a proper laptop for. Although a netbook would be a fine choice if you really think he is ready. I know I started showing my kids how to use the computer at around two, and by 3 they could use the mouse. My kids are hardly prodigies (actually, they both have Autism Spectrum Disorder) but now they can both use the PC with no problem. I've found the Zac Browser [zacbrowser.com] to be a great help, as it limits the options kids have and basically turns the PC into a toy they can play with.

      I would suggest trying that first. Download it, and sit with your child using it. (Hand-over-hand on the mouse at first.) You will find it to be great bonding time for you and your child, and the bonus is that they learn to do some basic things on the PC, and eventually it will be a nice, kid-safe method of entertainment.

      • by mhall119 (1035984) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:51AM (#25909037) Homepage Journal

        My kids are hardly prodigies (actually, they both have Autism Spectrum Disorder) but now they can both use the PC with no problem. I've found the Zac Browser [zacbrowser.com] to be a great help, as it limits the options kids have and basically turns the PC into a toy they can play with.

        My son is on the spectrum too, I made a Linux distro for him with some nice open source games. Check it out at: http://quinncoincorporated.org/ [quinncoincorporated.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kae_verens (523642)

        my son Jareth is also autistic. I gave him one of my own laptops when he was 4. no problems with a mouse, as it had a synaptic pad.

        I set him up with a simple system - Ubuntu with KDE3 in Kiosk mode. he was locked down to a few simple tasks.

        He spent most of the time browsing around the CBeeBies website or playing "BridgeBuilder-Game".

        Eventually, though, I had to take the laptop off him - he got so engrossed in it that he would forgo food and the toilet in favour of getting his "fix" of the laptop.

        I'll give h

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:22AM (#25908813) Homepage

      He's not curious about your computers, he's just trying to do whatever it is you're doing. If you were reading a newspaper he'd be "interested in newspapers". If you were peeling potatoes he'd be "interested in starchy tubers".

      From the sound of it you need to spend less time surfing the web and devote more time to the young person that YOU brought into the world.

    • by PinkyDead (862370)

      My 2c (with the proviso that I just about know how to raise my own kids, and I'm a firm believer in not telling anyone else how to raise theirs).

      I notice with kids that those that are very good at one particular thing are grossly deficient in others, and I think this is a problem with a lot of so-called 'prodigies', many of whom end up with severe social and psychological problems in later life.

      I have seen over and over again, the parent that thinks their kid is really bright and works really hard to encour

    • Just saying.

      Wtf should he have a real complete computer for? Get him something for learning or playing with colors/drawing or shapes or to make sound or whatever.

      Either like finger painting on a touchscreen (but why not use finger paint?), or a non-computer such as those drawing tables we had with two knobs, etch-a-scetch? Or something like a Korg Kaoss Pad or similar if you really wanna go high-tech :D
      Keyboard?

      Build him a small car with electronic motor?

      Check of KMX trikes?

      Still, wtf shall he do with a reg

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dumb_jedi (955432)
      As a father of a three-year boy and a toddler girl, I can say that that are curious about EVERYTHING. From the ant to the airplane. What you should be considering is how to keep them that way, curious and unafraid to ask questions.

      Specifically about exposing children to technology, I'm against it. We don't really know how it affects their development, so I'll wait until they're 7, 8 or older to get them a computer. Right now I think it's more important for them to use their imagination than a computer,
    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:42AM (#25908969) Homepage Journal

      Your son is not a prodigy.

      I bet he's not an AOL either.

    • by Robocoastie (777066) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:50AM (#25909019) Homepage
      Rogerborg is absolutely correct. Any interest your child has in computers right now is simply because he sees you at the computer so he's doing what children do: monkey see monkey do. What I did for my child when she "showed an interest" is gaver her an old keyboard which at 5 she still plays with. At 5 the computer things she does is limited to noggin.com pbskids.com sproutonline.com and a couple Disney Pooh games that are simple point and click. Even those kid-friendly websites still have too many links to non-games and ads that frustrate her. It takes time to develop the understanding what's on a screen (especially when their reading is non-existant or limited) and the dexterity to work a mouse or trackball. At 2 you're better off with lightup music toys. My 2 copper is get him a toy piano keyboard with flashy lights :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mewshi_nya (1394329)

        I *hated* little kids toys when I was little, and they haven't changed that much in the 16 years span. I wanted things that were interesting and meaningful to me...

        But, hey, that's me...

        The kid who was reading at 2, skipped 2 grades in math classes, and reads technical manuals for fun.

        Yeah... on second thought, don't listen to me. Your kid could end up TOTALLY fucked up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kachakaach (1336273) *

      My son took over my old eMac before turning age two. He is now 2.5 yrs old, he has basic command of the full UI. (Tiger 10.4.11)

      he "cut his teeth" on several baby banger programs. He now uses over a dozen children's software apps, including the MacKiev suite (green eggs and ham, cat in the hat, etc), and LOVES tux paint, and his most recent acquisition is "Ollo at the Sunny Valley Fair.

      He has a good understanding of the DVD interface, and explores all the games, extras, and other features of the DVD's.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kikta (200092)

      You're a jackass who either doesn't have kids or was such an obnoxious dipshit about having them that the other parents hated you.

      Toddlers want to use the same things mommy and daddy have. They know the difference between a toy and the real thing. My son had several toy remotes before I finally bought a spare TiVo remote and gave it to him without batteries. He now leaves the remote alone, because he has one also.

      This won't be an electronic babysitter - the guy wants something to distract the little brat. I

  • by canUbeleiveIT (787307) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:43AM (#25908521)
    You're joking, right? It sounds like this is more for you than for your son. Look, we all want our children to be interested in what we're interested in, but don't you think that this is a little overkill and a little pushy? All children are interested by lights and sounds, etc. but that doesn't mean that he is ready for his own real computer. Buy him one of those toy ones that make sounds and have big flashing lights, he'll like it better and when he breaks it, you'll only be out twenty bucks.
  • Suggestion... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198)
    My suggestion is to just let him be a kid for a little while. You really don't want him getting that pasty complexion this early in life...
  • by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:46AM (#25908545)

    I gave my 1½ YO daughter an old IBM Thinkpad from the late 90's. It's not useful for any real application, but it does run - and she can do whatever she wants with it, it's hers.

  • by SpaceGhost (23971) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:47AM (#25908547)

    I'm a first day Give One Get One (G1G1) buyer of the OLPC, and although it certainly doesn't match the specs or convenience of the newer UMPCs, it is amazingly good at what it is designed for - an easy to use and super durable computer for children. Two is pretty young, they need to know not to smash the screen, but aside from that the OLPC has an excellent interface. There really isnt any competition. They just restarted the OLPC G1G1 on Amazon, but you can probably find one at a decent price on eBay - dont be in a rush and you'll get a good deal. You'll find it fun to play with too!

  • Thinkpads? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZDRuX (1010435) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:48AM (#25908553)
    Why not just spend $300 on an old Thinkpad? They were built pretty tough, and are probably too heavy for a small kid to carry around so he won't be able to drop it.
  • Elonex ONEt+ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fork_daemon (1122915) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#25908555) Journal

    I ordered Elonex ONEt+ http://www.elonexone.co.uk/ [elonexone.co.uk] for my neice.. She will be 3years old in March.

    It is currently available only for pre-booking and will be delivered by Christmas.

  • Gen Two (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#25908559) Homepage
    Give him one of your old computers, an internet connection, and a Gentoo boot disk. Let him figure it out from there.

    Let's get realistic here. The kid doesn't read or even understand what the different keys on the keyboard are at this age. A conventional computer won't teach him that. Maybe you should set the bar within his reach for the next couple years. A toy computer that presents him with challenges that are appropriate for his cognitive level will be far more educational.
  • Refocus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#25908561) Homepage Journal

    I would not want him staring at a computer screen. Show him printed text and he may read. I was before that age.

    Interacting with a laptop is not the basis you want his brain to grow around.

    However, there are infant games for computers. I had one for a mac years ago that drew things in red, black and white as small children are most attracted to red.

  • by KeithIrwin (243301) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#25908563)

    I think you're getting ahead of yourself. Two-year-olds are not old enough to understand how to treat things gently. I don't think it's possible to make a laptop that can stand up to a two-year-old unless you encased the whole thing (including the keyboard) in about a two-inch thick layer of plastic. Two-year-olds throw terrible tantrums. They're known for it. They'll often smash things up when they're angry. When my step daughter was two and upset, she ripped every page out of Blueberries For Sal. They don't understand the consequences of their actions. Whether or not he's curious about computers, age two is too soon. Wait, at least, until he gets to an age where he doesn't throw tantrums (which will probably be a little before age three if you don't make a practice of giving in when he throws tantrums and will probably be about age fifteen otherwise).

    At three, he'd at least be less likely to break it quickly. Personally, I'd probably wait until age four or so since he's more likely to have the needed cognitive skills to do things like recognize symbols at that age. But regardless of whether you wait until age three or age four, "almost two" is significantly too early for a computer.

  • Two is tough (Score:4, Informative)

    by xzvf (924443) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:50AM (#25908569)
    A two year old is going to have a hard time manipulating the keyboard and touch pad of any netbook. Consider one of the Fisher Price things you hook to a regular TV. If you are insisting on a real computer, the XO-1 from OLPC is available on Amazon for $400 ($200 tax break for the G1G1 program). Sugar bothers most adults but my five year old (now six) took to it well, and it has lots of interesting software. For the less adventuresome, the Classmate from Intel (distributed by CTL) is also available on Amazon. It uses a modified Edubuntu build so has a lot of educational applications. Unless your kid is some kind of bio mechanical freak, that can handle mice, keyboards and touch pads at two, I'd suggest buying something designed for that age and holding off on the netbook for a couple of years.
    • Re:Two is tough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jg (16880) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:03AM (#25908667) Homepage

      Before kids can read, any "conventional" gui (I don't care if it is KDE/Gnome/Windows/Mac) is both going to train the kids to ignore dialog boxes and/or drive parents to distraction with questions. That's why (in part) OLPC do the Sugar user interface: our target is kids who are in the process of learning to read.

      It's also why the OLPC XO-1 is much, much more rugged than conventional laptops.

  • by Eganicus (1374269) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:51AM (#25908577)
    You need to "foster" Computer & Gaming interests in kids? Ever read the news? You need to force them to stop playing video games and DO HOMEWORK or go outside! You don't need to "teach" them to look at shiny blinking lights..... Why does this person as a parent frighten me?
  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:52AM (#25908583) Homepage Journal

    I have a nephew around the same age (slightly over two). He loves playing with my Nintendo DS and Mario 64 on the Wii (which, of course, he doesn't quite know how to control yet, but the freedom to just run around is fun even to him).

    What would be a good portable I could get him that would be more his age? I don't think he's a prodigy or anything, I just want to get him something fun.

    • by TheSpoom (715771) *

      (And by portable, I mean portable game console or something thereabouts. Obviously a laptop or anything with a keyboard is beyond him at this point.)

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        How about a Leapfrog Leapster or similar? i'd be wary of getting into the DS too much. Doesn't really encourage interaction with the outside world and sounds a bit like a trigger for autism.
      • by mckwant (65143)

        We've got one of these:

        http://www.amazon.com/Vtech-Tote-Go-Laptop-Plus/dp/B000E1PY6U [amazon.com]

        And it serves it's purpose just fine. Our 2 1/2 year old can recognize most of the letters already. She's obviously not using all the games (some are a little beyond her, frankly), but it's nigh-indestructable, and $20 if they happen to destroy it.

        We don't really encourage its use, but she picks it up from time to time anyway. I still have more fun with the blocks, personally.

  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:55AM (#25908603) Homepage
    A box of crayons and a cardboard box big enough to sit in. Turn it on its side for cave-y goodness (2 is a bit too young for spaceship goodness).
    --
    Lost you job? Keep one eye open on craigslist.com http://www.bigattichouse.com/oneeyeopen.html [bigattichouse.com]
  • by kwabbles (259554) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:56AM (#25908611)

    My daughter who is almost 3 has been really interested in electronics as well. I picked up an old used laptop (I think it's a Pentium III 800 or something) that someone was giving away. I loaded it up with Debian and installed GCompris. She absolutely loves it - and GCompris is great. Problem is (like most kids her age) she picks it up to move it and drops it, tries to forcefully "integrate" her other toys with it, occasionally spills something on the keyboard... you know - normal 2 year old stuff.

    Unless you've got the cash to not care about your kid wrecking and mucking the thing up in 6 months of use - I say load linux on an old used beater. The kid doesn't know the difference.

  • by alexandre_ganso (1227152) <surak@surak.eti.br> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:57AM (#25908615)

    I learned to read with that age, which was considered a prodigy in my city (and a freak, BTW, in equal proportions).

    I really dug into encyclopedias, and was very interested in science. Until I stole a book from a dad's friend.

    It was COBOL. I was 4. Now I'm a sad CS teacher finishing my ph.D. in high-performance computing. And I have 12 euros in my bank account right now.

    Let him live. And when time comes, guide him to a law school.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MiniMike (234881)

      Now I'm a sad CS teacher finishing my ph.D. in high-performance computing. And I have 12 euros in my bank account right now.

      Don't worry- once you finish your Ph.D., you'll have at least 20-30 euros in your bank account.

    • by j-beda (85386) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:46PM (#25909555) Homepage
      "...guide him to a law school."

      Naw - get him interested in one of the trades - that's where the real money is. Start an apprenticeship right out of high school and by the time his buddies have graduated with their law degrees and a pile of debt he could own his own plumbing business and be bringing it serious coin.

  • I think it's simply amazing when I see a 3 yr old that can hop up to a computer and knows how to use it. Not to get on excel or anything, but knows how to turn it on or shut it down, can click on games and use a mouse.

    Don't expect the computer to be a major part of their life. Even just getting to play on the computer for 30 minutes a day would be great. You want your kid to be one of the ones at school that when the entire class is placed in a lab full of computers, that he sits down and is comfortable

  • Buy the Magellan laptop (Magalhaes) that is based on the Intel Classmate framework. This computer is being supplied to every child in Portugal from the ages of 6-10. It's a very robust laptop that keeps working after more than 1 meter (3 feet) falls.
    However, you should analyze if 2 years-old isn't a bit too soon to have a laptop.
  • Don't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:00AM (#25908637)
    If you must, why not let them play with a simple drawing app or flash game (I'd suggest Cbeebies in the UK) on your machine? Preferably a machine that isn't an expensive laptop and has an external, disposable mouse and keyboard? Or one of those jumbo child's trackballs?

    Two is too young for real mouse and keyboard control, although they might be enthralled by pictures on the screen. I'd argue that spending the money on some books and other play equipment (cheap and good: some big plastic "tweezers" and some little plastic objects to pick up - develops the quite specialised muscles and coordination they'll need to hold a pen for writing later on really well) would be a better course of action though.

    Buying them their own laptop's a dumb idea if you expect them to take care of it. It'll get pulled off the table or have the lid shut with an object on the keyboard, and it'll die. Also, if you're giving them access to the charger, they might pull the AC cable out and stick it in their mouth, which wouldn't do them any good. Or they might accidentally short the battery and cause a fire. Or tip their juice over it. Or (as just happened to my other half's brand new Palm Centro) decide they like it so much they're going to dip it in the bath to clean it. I could go on. They're just not toddler-proof/friendly/suitable.
    I've a two year old and a five year old. I wouldn't buy either a "real" laptop although my five year old likes sitting on my lap and playing simple kids web games sometimes, and can use a mouse and a keyboard. She'd rather draw with a pen, though, and learning to read and write is something best done on paper. My two year old is currently literally jumping up and down with sheer joy at the marble run we've just bought her.

    My advice? If you want a netbook for yourself, buy one. If you want a toy for your kids, buy something else.

    Having said all this, an iPhone is great for distracting small children by showing them pics of the family!

  • Then when he gets the hang of that, take off the training wheels and let him use vi.
  • I have a 3 year old (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:02AM (#25908659)

    he says he's going to 'check his email' and sits down at the computer. i dont know where he got that from. not me, cause i never say something like 'ima check my email'

    then he proceeds to remove keys from the keyboard. he's gotten quite good at this, even employing other objects as a lever to pop the keys off. i then find them scattered about the house, in his mouth, outside, in the toilet, in the refrigerator...

    if you have a child of this age, the only computers that are going to stand up to them are made by fisher price etc.

    i don't think it would be worth it until about 5 at the earliest

  • I've got a working Commodore 64 system that I'm willing to sell you for cheap (complete with oodles of software). That taught me everything I needed to know about computers, and in a way that captivated me. Perhaps that'd be considered an ultra-archaic learning tool in this day and age, but then again maybe it's the perfect level of entry because it's a system that's simple enough to be (mostly) understood as a whole while being powerful enough (BASIC 2.0 gripes aside) to give one a feeling of accomplishm
    • Hey! What's the price? You have an ebay page?
      Do you offer international shipping?
      Am serious.
      If you can offer international shipping, am willing to buy it via ebay.
      My son is 3.5 yrs old and i had the misfortune of letting him alone with my iBook a year before.
      He meticulously cleared out the keyboard of ALL keys, precisely and accurately. Plucked out EACH key with his tiny fingers.
      I complained to Apple that their keyboard allows small fingers to get between the spaces and pull them out.
      They agreed but did not

  • Read to the boy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by J. Random Human (1232608) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:05AM (#25908683)

    The best thing to do is read to him every night. By doing so, he will learn that reading is a rewarding activity. When he gets older, reading will not be a struggle, and from there he can do whatever he likes.

    And he will want to use Daddy's laptop, even if he has his own.

  • Fish (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:10AM (#25908717)

    Give the 2 year old a fish & you have fed him for today.
    Teach him how to fish & you have fed him for life.

    Why buy him a computer. Take him to Frys or something.
    Let him pick out the parts & make his own computer.
    Once he is done, point him to one of the Linux sources - he
    can build his binaries & install it.

  • Not an UMPC! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wooky_linuxer (685371) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:11AM (#25908729)
    Be warned: I will be a dick.

    An Asus EeePC or an MSI Wind are not to be considered UMPC. The concepts are different. UMPC are overgrown palm devices (or shrunken tablets, depending how you see it), with a touchscreen, and an emphasis on watching/listening media. Hence the name. They are usually quite expensive, do not have a normal keyboard or lack one completely - you are supposed to use the touchscreen for that, and since you are not expected to type a lot, that should be ok.

    The category you are talking about should be called netbooks. They are notebooks which are smaller, cheaper, and slower than a typical notebook. Most of all, they are very portable without the price premium associated with an ultraportable notebook. The points here are price, form-factor, and intended purpose. Your typical netbook has a (smallish) notebook keyboard, perhaps not so much storage, but it will let you do - and expects you to - all the things you do with a normal notebook, providing you can put up with the small screen and keyboard.

    , Ok, I will stop being a dick now and answer your question. Since so many people told you not to get any kind of computer, I won't do the same, but... anyways, consider an OLPC machine. It is supposed to be more sturdy, and the Sugar interface is (IMHO) a great way to teach children what computers are all about without being tied to the dominant GUI/OS.

    That said, no matter how gifted your child is, he is still a 2 year old and so he is bound to shred the computer to little pieces. And eat them. So either get the cheapest one, or get a very sturdy one.

  • As usual, its the software that drives the hardware and not the other way around. I don't expect you or anyone to hand over the computer and walk off. But you can and should use the computer as joint play-time. There's always M$ Paint for starters, and Fisher-Price has a resource-intensive keyboard that duplicates the paint program so he can use a stylus to draw, paint, spray, etc. on a drawing pad on the keyboard itself that shows up on the screen. Then there's the ancient but fun Putt-putt games if he
  • Hold on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meist3r (1061628)
    2 year old child? Computer? What?

    Furthering your kids natural curiousity should start with the regular things like nature and people. Why don't you find some friends for him to play with or have him memorize each species of every zoo in your range of travel? Seriously, there are TONS of other things you should get your kid involved in before plugging him into the naval cord of all evil in the world, what we like to call the internet. You know what it's for ...

    If you really have to go through all that
    • by meist3r (1061628)
      And before I forget it again, I know this kid won't be online for quite some time but what will a two year old learn from a computer without a teacher around? At this age one of these learning computers could be enough because all they understand is what sensoric queues they get from the device. Something that makes him understand simple menu structures and interaction is more suitable than a regular OS of which he won't even understand half.
      • by RMH101 (636144)
        That'd be "sensory cues". Did you learn English from a Speak'n'Spell?

        It's funny, laugh
  • by mario_grgic (515333) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:14AM (#25908757)

    Talk a lot, play and bond, and let it learn directly from you. Computer is not a substitute for parenting.

    That said, once your child is ready and interested get HP 50G programmable graphing calculator and let it master it! (RPN and simple but powerful programming constructs are available).

    The device is still small and capable, but there is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing how it truly works.

    Computers of today are too abstract and too separated from the metal, and you can't really feel you intimately know it any more (you know that feeling we had back in our childhood when we knew our Commodore 64's ROM addresses and functions they do. You don't get that any more).

  • How about a box of crayons. Candyland. A tricycle. A soccer ball.
    If you must, a restricted user acct on your desktop, with a kid-applicable set of games.

    I can't imagine any 'real' laptop being sturdy enough for a 2 year old. He *will* drop it one day. Or simply trip over the cord, pulling t off the desk.
  • Umm you do realize the kid's 2 right? Even if the kid is a prodigy, it probably isn't a good idea to give him a real laptop as most are not designed for that sort of abuse. Plus do you really want your kid to be a computer junkie at that age already!? I mean I'd prefer to give my kids electronic toys (FRS Radio for example), encourage them to play and explore with different things. By only giving them a computer you're effectively limiting their choices.
  • I just bought an EEE for my Mom for Christmas, and let me tell you it isn't exactly fragile, but it definitely wasn't made with 2 year olds in mind.

    If you really want to get him something, look for an older, very inexpensive computer, and look into something like edubuntu. I played with that a while back thinking I'd give an old machine to my son when he was 4-5, but just waited another year and gave him my old G4. At that point he was old enough to click around and find the basic web sites that I allowed

  • Have you got him his slashdot account yet? Since the UIDs are already in the millions, by the time he's in his teens and ready to really start using slashdot, OK- ten, that number might be as high as 2 to 2.5 to maybe even 3 million. So save that "low" single million UID now so he'll have built in cred in a few years.

    Just imagine that proud moment in only a few years when he's asking you about Natalie Portman and hot grits! Or when he wake's you in the middle of the night because he clicked on something expecting to see a goat. Good times! And why wait when you can get him started now?
  • he's too young (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hvulin (94104) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:06PM (#25909185) Homepage

    give him a break... for a couple more years...

    and btw. he will always end up on your laptop (even if you give him 10 alternative computers to play with) since forbidden fruit is always the sweetest...

  • It's you, not him. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by catmistake (814204) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:28PM (#25909375) Journal

    Your child is interested in you, what your interests are. If you give him something that you don't use, he will lose interest fast. You are a father and, presumably, a husband... NOTHING IS YOURS ANYMORE. Get over your materialism, and let him play on your computer.

  • by kuzb (724081) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:51PM (#25909593)

    Because a computer is pretty limited for them until s/he is able to read. Reading to your child from a book is a great way to not only socialize and bond with them, as well as getting their imagination active.

    He might still want on your computer, which is fine, but find something simple for him to do (you might consider having a look at http://virtualapple.org/ [virtualapple.org] for some old, but good games.) and put him in your lap while he does it so you can help guide him, and keep your equipment from getting destroyed. No 2 year old should be on a computer alone.

  • by wfstanle (1188751) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:22PM (#25909807)

    Come on folks! Less than two is a preschooler and a very young one at that. The preschool years are VERY important. They should be learning about social interaction not computer interaction. They should be learning their FIRST language not a computer language. They should be learning how to get along with others not get along with a computer. A young child has a lot of important learning to do and a computer is not one of them. There is a whole lot of time later on to learn about computers. This is not one of them.

  • by capsteve (4595) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:21PM (#25911789) Homepage Journal
    but you don't realize your head is firmly planted high up your ass.

    wake up and realize that children as young as 2 need to develop various skills:physical, social, metacognition. a computer can capture their attention, and the ability to focus on something is an important step in metacognitive skills, but you're gonna turn your kid into an idiot if his early childhood development is poorly balanced with a computer at it's center...

    buy your child toys that require him to exercise his brain and hands, like duplo/lego blocks, wooden stacking blocks, a trainset, or for that matter any early learning toy (there's alot of great early learning toys from germany, why don't you use the intertubes to look them up).

    instead of buying him his own computer, let him use your computer TOGETHER WITH YOU, for carefully measured durations of time. in the mean time YOU need to LEARN how to interact with your child in meatspace, man. talk and sing and teach, build legos, take walks, fly a kite, be physically INTERACTIVE, not VIRTUAL.

    deeper computer learning, and maybe his own computer might be more appropriate at age 5-7, not 2.

    figure it out.

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