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Thinking of buy a new computing device?

posted Nov 23, 2020, 2:20 AM by Owen Breslin

With Christmas around the corner and Black Friday running at the moment, some of our parents may be considering purchasing a device for online learning.

Feedback from pupils suggests that using a phone to read online or to type out a response to an assignment can be problematic. Parents have also reported problems sharing devices at home so it might be a good idea to consider purchasing a more suitable device for children to use.

We also occasionally get asked for advice on what may be the most appropriate device to purchase for their child. Therefore, we have prepared a brief explanation of each type of device and the pros and cons for each one. Please note the following:

·         Pupils do not have to have their own device. This is completely up to parents. This advice sheet is for guidance only and we are not telling parents they have to buy a device for their child.

·         The sheet below is just our opinion and is not an exhaustive guidance document

If you are considering purchasing a device, then there are multiple options available. Like any purchase, a lot will depend on budget. Therefore we have included some guidance figures here. Please note that these are subject to change.

 

Device

Approximate Cost

Advantages / disadvantages

Windows Laptops

€350+

A laptop is a powerful tool that allows a huge amount of flexibility. Featuring a keyboard, pupils generally find it easier to type on a laptop.

Budget depends on how powerful a laptop you wish to invest in. When buying, look out for how much memory (Ram) and how much storage space (hard drive) the laptop has. Most laptops now feature an SSD hard drive. These are faster than the hard drives that were traditionally featured in laptops. RAM is the short term memory that each device uses for processing. There are huge differences between the processor (or brains) found in each laptop, however the range is so wide and varied that it would not be possible to give advice on this)

Entry level specs are 4Gb Ram and a 128GB SSD hard drive. To future proof your investment 8Gb Ram and 256Gb SSD would be even better.

Chromebooks

€200

Non touchscreen

€330

Touchscreen

Similar to a laptop, chromebooks feature a keyboard that the pupils can type on. The main differences between laptops and Chromebooks are that Chromebooks use the Google Chrome Operating system. Chromebooks also use “cloud storage”.

This means that to function properly they must be connected to the internet as most data is stored there.  If you have poor broadband then a Chromebook is not a suitable choice of device. However, if broadband is not an issue then these are worth considering. The school chromebooks are really popular with our pupils.

Chromebooks with a touchscreen are particularly user friendly and can also be used as a tablet, however it is not essential to have a touchscreen on a chromebook.

IPads

€360

IPads are user friendly, powerful devices that are built to last. All of the apps that are used in school will comfortably run on an IPad. There is no need for an IPad Pro. The 32Gb Ipad is more than suitable for school work. Beware of second hand Ipads., especially early generations. Recent models are fine but older models may no longer be supported and it may not be able to run some apps.

Android Tablet

From €160

Android Tablets run on Android – Googles operating system designed for phones and tablets. These are the alternative to the IPad. Featuring a wide variety of apps, android tablets are very user friendly. Beware of unknown brands and try and purchase a tablet with at least 32 Gb of Ram.

 

Amazon Fire Tablet

From €60

Amazons Fire tablets come in a range of sizes and capacities. Fire tablets run on a version of Google android but it is important to note that it does not come with Googles Play store. This means that not all apps are supported. It is not advised to purchase this device if using google classroom.

[Please note that while it is technically possible to put google playstore on an Amazon Fire tablet,  this requires some technical know-how and we are unable to provide advice on this]

 

 

The following Safety information from Zeeko Education, may also be of interest.

With many online retailers offering discounts on technology at the moment our blog this week offers some tips on putting online safety top of your list. Digital devices can be a great gift but it’s important to always be conscious of the age appropriateness of such a device and also the messages you need to be communicating with your child about staying safe online.

Take into account what age the child you are buying for is and indeed the other children that may also have access to this technology. Remember the age rating on a game is the minimum age that that game is aimed at. It’s absolutely natural for younger siblings to be curious of what their older siblings may be allowed to have technology wise, so having regular conversations about staying safe online is a great way to make kids of all ages aware of the potential dangers they may encounter when they are online.

Make sure you check how easy it is to activate and monitor the safety settings on any device you purchase. While safety settings are never a 100% guarantee of safety, they are certainly a step in the right direction.
Do your own research in advance of shopping: It’s easy to get carried away in the moment in when it comes to the sales…we’ve all been there! But do try to create a list and stick to it. There is usually so much information online about the specs regarding technology that it is a lot easier to do your research in advance and know exactly what you are looking for.
Regardless of the type of technology you may buy, regularly remind your child of the importance of and need for face to face communication as opposed to online messaging and spending time in front of a screen! It’s all about balance when it comes to the use of tech!

For older children and teens remind them that if they are using messaging apps on any new devices to only message their friends, people they know and have met, encourage them to exercise the same level of caution when they are online as they would when they are offline.

A growing number of devices include what is known as a digital assistant. The most commonly known of these is Siri. It’s a good idea to make sure these are turned off when your child is using a digital device.

No matter what the level of technology in your home there is no substitute for face to face communication about the importance of staying safe when it comes to using tech.

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