Parents, please don't buy your children a tablet other than the iPad

I've had several conversations with parents lately who ask if it's a good idea to get an Android tablet for their kids. The Kindle Fire, Acer, Toshiba, Blackberry, and Samsung are devices being pushed hard by big retailers this holiday season, and while it might seem like a good deal, I want to highly encourage parents not to purchase these things for your children. But before I explain why, let me admit that yes, I am an Apple fanboy. I love Apple gear and make a living by teaching people how to use Apple gear. As Jim Dalrymple says, "I use Apple products because they work." The bottom line with Android powered tablets is that they do not work for kids. Here are four points to explain what I mean. First, there are no killer apps. Why is it that Angry Birds and Facebook are the only apps getting showcased on Android devices? What about educational apps, quality ebooks, or even powerful productivity software? The iPad has a huge plethora of quality apps for kids. This is why the iPad is taking over schools. Each month, it seems like there's a new, ground breaking app that opens up a new world of creativity and learning for kids. Second, no built-in parental controls. Do you really want to buy a highly portable and highly open web browser for your kids? I have never seen an easy way for parents to restrict adult websites or inappropriate apps on these tablets. And because the Android app stores are unmonitored, it is simple for a child to get tricked into downloading something not suitable for kids. On the other hand, the iPad ships with parental controls, and they are easy for you to configure. Every app in Apple's App Store is monitored and given an age limit. For example, you can restrict an iPad to only apps intended for kids ten years old and younger. Also, you can restrict the web, camera, and YouTube as well. Third, you don't need Flash. Flash is an archaic web technology created by Adobe. Besides the fact that Adobe has recently abandoned developing Flash for tablets, it crashes constantly and drains devices battery. Flash is being touted as a strength to Android devices, but even on the ones which have it, it hardly runs well at all. Millions of iPads have sold without Flash, and only hard-core techies seem to mind. Your kids don't need it. Lastly, every iPad comes with the Apple Retail Store. If anything happens to your device, you can book an appointment at the store and have a real conversation with a real person who is really in front of you. If something were to happen to your Android device, get ready to spend countless hours on the phone with customer support only to be told you need to ship off the tablet for service. Understandably, many parents probably have an issue with buying their kids a $500 iPad. If that's you, I would suggest getting an iPod touch. They start at $200, are more portable, and already come with parental controls and a ton of age-appropriate apps. I'm sure they'll love it far more than the competition. Speaking of competition, do you know what actually looks like it might be a decent contender to the iPad? This guy.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.