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Computer For a Child?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the start-them-young dept.

Education 556

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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Oh, get over yourself (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908511)

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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (4, Insightful)

g253 (855070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908589)

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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908653)

There are a few games for OS X designed for

Baby Safe II []
# 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 []
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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Funny)

aetherworld (970863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908831)

Baby Banger []

They should really consider getting a new name for their app...

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Funny)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908709)

he's interested in anything that goes "ping"

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

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Funny)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (4, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908875)

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".

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Insightful)

phoomp (1098855) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Oh, get over yourself (0, Troll)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908619)

Your son is not a prodigy.

I'd think twice before throwing such comments around.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (4, Informative)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 [] 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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908931)

I don't think it was necessary to be that rude to the guy.

Where there is a real superiority of mind, rudeness will be always under good regulation.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908951)

they both have Autism Spectrum Disorder

In my day we called them "retards" but if a nice euphemism helps you deal with your loser kids...

Re:Oh, get over yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908695)

I agree.

As to the others saying he could be a prodigy, well... Maybe, but I guarantee they would have mentioned this because it's very rare and would have made the question make a lot more sense.

To me this is a first time parent trying to "get involved" but they really don't know what they are doing and they want a new toy themselves. Nobody that has had a normal 2-year-old would even consider asking a question like this because they would know it doesn't make any sense. A Fischer Price "computer" would be better.

Sure, let the kid hammer on your keyboard and help them do some simple stuff on the computer (they can use a mouse; at least when they aren't bored), but they don't need their own computer. And watch your kid very carefully around your computer, especially the display. It takes less than a second to put something through the screen and ruin it (ask me how I know).

Re:Oh, get over yourself (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908813)

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.

Re:Oh, get over yourself (4, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908903)

So short sighted!

Just think of the uber-mecha-geek that he could turn out by teaching the child so early on that:

1. Computers are more interesting than people (including you)
2. Being interested in the computer is the only way to make your father happy.

Social dysfunction and extreme geekhood here we come!

Re:Oh, get over yourself (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908847)

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 encourage the emerging talent. The parent thinks this child is amazing - but other parents in school, say, recognise this effort but also see the deficiencies it causes. (Social and interaction skills is a huge one)

I think it is vital that a parent encourages their child to discover the world and is there to pick them up when they fall, but to do it in the most informal way possible - especially at age 2.

A computer is just tool that extends how we interact with the real world - but we need to learn that interaction without the computer first.

That's why he should get an appliance (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908889)

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

Build him a small car with electronic motor?

Check of KMX trikes?

Still, wtf shall he do with a regular computer?

Re:Oh, get over yourself (3, Insightful)

FreeFull (1043860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908957)

Oy, it doesn't take a prodigy to use a computer at age of 2. I got my first computer when I was 2 (it was a MS-DOS box) and I certainly aren't a prodigy. (right now I'm 14). I didn't have much trouble using it (except for the prompt command accident) and I certainly didn't break it, or even attempt to break it. It was my gateway to the world of computers.

C'mon...this is crazy! (5, Insightful)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:C'mon...this is crazy! (5, Funny)

subnomine (849148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908641)

The BMW M5 has a very simple computer system, just a single turn and push knob. Easy to learn.

Hey! You can spoil kids, you know! (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908793)

A Thinkpad *and* an M5? Man, when *I* was a kid...

Suggestion... (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908525)

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...

Too early for a "real" PC (2, Interesting)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Too early for a "real" PC (5, Funny)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908663)

Stick it in the bath? Eat the battery? Lick the power supply?

Re:Too early for a "real" PC (5, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908673)

Are you crazy? Do you realize how much a choking hazard keys are? I know ThinkPads are durable but they're not indestructible. Spend the 20 bucks on a toy that has the same intellectual return value. These toys are designed with the safety of a child in mind, a ThinkPad isn't.

Re:Too early for a "real" PC (3, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908877)

HEY! She could swallow those small keys and choke to death.
Do you want to be charged with inadvertent manslaughter charges?
My 3 1/2 yr old son pried off EACH key of my iBook a year ago when left alone with it. I mean every single damn key on the keyboard was on the floor when i entered.
Thankfully he has NEVER eaten anything not fed by me or his mom (no off-floor eating, etc). So he was safe.
Imagine if he put those things in his mouth?
NEVER EVER do that again, Understand? Unless you are planning to get rid of your daughter (you can drop her off at a Nevada hospital, you dumbass) Sorry am angry, but i still remember my scene vividly.

DEFINATELY the OLPC (5, Insightful)

SpaceGhost (23971) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!


Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908723)

This is what I immediately thought $400, half of which is tax deductible is a good deal for your child AND you can teach him to give as he receives.


More Trouble (211162) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908913)

"Nearly two" is probably too young to teach about charity, but you're on the right track. I wouldn't suggest letting a nearly two year old play unsupervised on a OLPC G1G1. They are rugged, not impervious! My three year old pealed off a dozen of the keys. She's had the OLPC since last year without previously destroying it, so one would have thought she was OK with it. She had no idea the exploration she was doing was destructive.

Another issue, tho, is that OLPC doesn't really have much software for a two year old, and the browser doesn't come with a reasonably flash alternative. So, if you're going to be closely supervising and surfing to run applications, it seems like using your laptop or desktop is just the thing.

Thinkpads? (2, Interesting)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 5 years ago | (#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+ (3, Insightful)

fork_daemon (1122915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908555)

I ordered Elonex ONEt+ [] 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 (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908559)

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 (2, Insightful)

mattr (78516) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908561)

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.

Getting ahead of yourself (5, Insightful)

KeithIrwin (243301) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

I use my own computer for a child (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908565)

It's a desktop and I call it Bobby. No diapers and all that crap, only pure parenting joy!

Two is tough (3, Informative)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

jg (16880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908667)

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.

Hey Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908571)

Wake up.

If you're not logged in, it's like Slashdot froze solid yesterday, on the "Blockbuster's Movie Download Box Runs Linux" article (with 40 comments, too).

Wait until he can READ! Unbelievable... (5, Insightful)

Eganicus (1374269) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Wait until he can READ! Unbelievable... (4, Insightful)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908633)

Why does this person as a parent frighten me?

Because it sounds like he is parenting for his own gratification by trying to force a "Mini-Me" identity upon his son instead of letting the child develop in a normal progression. It's disturbing.

Along the same lines... (5, Informative)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908583)

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.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908597)

(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.)

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908685)

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.

The universal gift. (4, Insightful)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908603)

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 []

Re:The universal gift. (3, Informative)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908759)

I really wish you would quit it with your spams. At least put it in your sig so it can be properly ignored.

Let me guess, a little Einstein? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908609)

Yeah, I know every parent wants to think their kid is a prodigy. I had to listen to it time an time again from my brother about how his son had an extremely high IQ and was smarter than everyone in the room put together. So he filled his head with this idea and let him get away with anything he wants. Now he's in his late teens, no real idea of what he's going to do with his life as far as a career and even though he still presents himself like he's on the ball about everything the fact is he knows precious little about anything. And it's not that I'm expecting him to be besting me but I have seen other teens of his age and talked to them about technology and science, they helped me set a high water mark and this kid is drowning in a really bad way.

So instead of trying to fill your own head with visions of your child being a prodigy and pushing him in a direction let him go with the flow. If he's really something so outstanding there are professionals who can help foster that gift but we're not those professionals. I don't know how much they can tell you about your child at the age of two but maybe they can bring you back down to earth as your chance of having a real prodigy on your hands is about as likely as me winning the lottery.

Don't buy a new machine for the kid. (4, Interesting)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Don't do it. Not yet. (5, Funny)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Don't do it. Not yet. (3, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908701)

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.

Re:Don't do it. Not yet. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908791)

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

Does that mean I will need to start doing stuff normal people do? Like eating other things than ramen and buy new shoes?

getting comfortable with computers early (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908617)

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 using it, not trying to press keys gingerly with one finger and struggling to figure out the mouse, not looking down at the keyboard and peck one key, look up at the screen, look down and peck one more key etc. You can really tell when a kid is accustomed to a computer.

You don't need a super computer for this. Heck, the k-2 I worked at last year had ancient iMacs running OS 9 and Harcourt learning games software on them, and that was an incredible experience for them. (teaching phonics mainly, all audio and video, no reading required) Those machines were in the kids' rooms, and there was a lab of 25 newer machines across the hall with Type To Learn Jr on them. 1st graders learning to type is a wonderful thing. Anything that gets them involved is more than enough.

There are web sites you can go to that host dozens of learning games for K-2 level kids, so you don't even need to buy software that they would outgrow in 2 months. (unlike their clothes!)

Child-proof Magellan laptop (2, Informative)

Bluefirebird (649667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908625)

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 (2, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Start him on pico (2, Funny)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908643)

Then when he gets the hang of that, take off the training wheels and let him use vi.

eeepc (1)

fattybob (196045) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908647)

get an eepc and install glubble on firefox (not tried that yet mind you). It is as full a powered pc as you want it to be, and comes out of the box with a bunch of easy to use and educational games - suitable for challenging all ages!! Bets of all - it is about as child proof as a computer gets (without opting for the barbie model) and is cheap. Also, if you feel the need, it is all you need to take on a trip for everyone's use.

I was planning to buy my daughter (8) one, but I cannot find any linux models in Singapore sadly - forget the windows model! - i suppose that comes with minesweeper & solitaire at least! My eepc has Tuxmath - yeehar!

uh huh. (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908749)

"forget the windows model! - i suppose that comes with minesweeper & solitaire at least! "

Yeah. I have an EEE with windows. and SQL server 2005, visual studio 2005, and world of warcraft. plus firefox, thunderbird, etc. all work just fine.

I have a 3 year old (5, Interesting)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Commodore 64 (only 3/4 joking) (1)

pomakis (323200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908661)

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 accomplishment and control.

Re:Commodore 64 (only 3/4 joking) (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908829)

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 nothing i guess.
Anyways a Commodore 64 is FAR harder to break-:)

Get a fujitsu - Free upgrades for life! (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908669)

Get a fujitsu lifebook. Apparently, there are free upgrades for life, and it will be small enough that (s)he can type on it with his/her pudgy fingers.

Alternately, I have an eee/1000ha, and it is fairly sturdy, but it wouldn't hold up to a little kid sitting on it. Maybe an older toughbook? Or even just something that is older than your kid...

Demanding Children (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908675)

A real computer for him at age 2?

By age 5, he'll be demanding his own personal server room, fully equipped.

Read to the boy (3, Insightful)

J. Random Human (1232608) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

go ahead let him play on your desktop (1)

sqkybeaver (1415539) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908713)

i have a 5 year old boy who has not had much experience with computers, how ever we do play games on the computer together,there many kids websites that are good for him, just create a user account that he can play games and can only get to certain websites, if he does break the keyboard they're cheap, much cheaper than a umpc.

Fish (5, Funny)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Hmm... (1)

XTrollX (1398725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908725)

I think you might want to start with Potty-Training first.

Re:Hmm... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908775)

Or at least choose the Ubuntu "Human" theme so it matches

Not an UMPC! (3, Insightful)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

It's the software (1)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908739)

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's ready for some "I need the hammer so I can trade for the key" search-and-fetch type games.

And of course, get a tiny notebook type mouse for his little hand.

Hold on (2, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908741)

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 just to say "look he's 2 1/2 and compiles his own kernel" buy an old ruggedized laptop. They'll be affordable, powerful enough for the needs of every gaming enthusiast 2 year old. And they're less likely to end in a tragedy when you son decides he wants to show his good friend "sippy cup" what awesome gibberish he just posted on his myspace page. Jeez.

Re:Hold on (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908767)

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.

Re:Hold on (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908825)

That'd be "sensory cues". Did you learn English from a Speak'n'Spell?

It's funny, laugh

Start with assembly! (1)

SirLoadALot (991302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908747)

Look, the job market out there is tough. You want your kid to get ahead, right? Assembly programming is clearly the way to go. That way when you introduce C at 4, C++ at 6, they'll be ready for the workplace while his would-be classmates are failing sandbox.

Even better... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908765)

...just teach him to bully the other kid in his class to do it for him, and pay him with a biscuit from his lunchbox. When he grows up, he'll be ready for outsourcing the people he works with.

The box the box (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908755)

He'll probably enjoy the box. It'll make a nice fort or maybe a car.

Spend time with your child... (3, Insightful)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#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).

Old Macs are fine for children (1)

kikan (22328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908777)

My children (I'm a proud Dad of 4 children) started using Macs at 3.

After trying to install an old Pc with Windows 95, and spend most of my time repairing it after they clicked twice or turned it off in the "wrong" way, I switched them to Mac.

I was given old Macs (Mac OS 8), all in one, with colour screen included and just left them near their playground. They started playing with th mouse, trying to hit the keyboard and finally got really surprised when it turned on !

Next, I installed very easy software for children (sorry, french : lapin malin maternelle 1, nounours...) which just show how to wipe the screen with the mouse or randomly hit the keyboard to produce sounds or figures.

Slowly, when they grew up, I explained how to clic and launch small games.

The mac can be turned off / on without any concern, and children can mess up the icons, everything still work !

a *new* laptop for a 2 year old?? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908795)

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.

ffs (1)

pilybaby (638883) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908797)

Get him a book on electronics and a schematic for an 8086 processor and let him work out the rest from there.

He's 2 FFS! Give him a ball!

Buy a Keyboard Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908799)

I bought my two year old daughter a basic keyboard with the keys that click quite loudly. She loves playing with it and will spend hours pounding keys.

~$40 for a keyboard
~$400 for an eee PC (or XO, or similar).

Guess which I would rather have milk spilt into or cookie crumbs fall into. It's not likely I will ever use the keyboard on a computer.

Start the kid with Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908805)

or the poor kid will be brain damaged for life if you subject the poor thing to Windows.

Let him use yours (1)

095 (710782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908807)

My son is 3 and loves Magic Desktop, but he only learned to use the mouse and keyboard properly aged about 3 1/2. I don't think he'll appreciate his own computer - just let him use yours - the worst he can do is damage some of the peripherals, but he can just as easily do that if he's got his own as well.

Forget the Laptop (1)

foxalopex (522681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908809)

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.

Not an EEE (1)

Shawn Parr (712602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908811)

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 him access to via the parental controls.

I would also say look for an older CRT monitor, and put it on the floor or a low shelf. He is just going to stick a pen or some toy into an LCD, and no matter what type of monitor you have he will probably topple it over at some point.

I don't know if this is your only child, but you have a couple of years still until you will have any idea if he will be careful enough with a computer for it to be worthwhile to give him one. So unless you have a spare machine laying around with no purpose, I'd wait and get him another toy type item instead.

As an analogy, I have had PDA's for quite some time. And when my son was 2, he really wanted to play with my Palm m515, which of course was a really bad idea. I was able to contact someone in Palm who agreed to send me a display model m130 (which had a epoxied together body with a cardboard insert for the screen, i.e. no actual electronics). He LOVED that thing. I think he still has it around somewhere. Had he got a real one (which would have been insane of me) he would have broken it in a week or so.

Computer for a child? (1)

11_biznatch_11 (875790) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908815)


8 bit (1)

bloosh (649755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908833)

As someone else mentioned, how about a Commodore 64, Apple II or Atari 400/800 with a floppy drive?

You can get these machines very cheap on Ebay or free if you look around. They're extremely durable and easy to fix. Best of all, they're easy to understand. You insert a disc, apply power and the desired software runs. No complicated OS gets in the way. Gobs of quality edutainment software available.

I've got a stack of Apple //e's ready for my kids when they're older.

Similar situation here (1)

tangosalsa (578827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908853)

I have a 2-year old daughter, and I've been asking myself the same question. Given how intersted she is in my and my wife's laptops, might there be a child-resistant and inexpensive computer for her?

I read through the various postings, and frankly I was surprised by some of the negativity expressed there. We read to our child every night before bedtime, we take her outdoors for running around, and we fill her day with appropriate activities. AND she still wants to play with computers. I think this is a legitimate question.

I've set up an old laptop for her to play with. No screen saver / password, stripped of most apps, just word processing so she can see her letters and sing ABC. She doesn't touch her toy laptop (the ones that cost around $20 at Wal-Mart). To be honest she only plays with her "real" laptop for about 5 minutes. Most of the times, she just wants to sit on our laps and do what we do. LOL.

Make it Easy!! (1)

eclecticduck (1416347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908869)

A piece of paper and a crayon. Easy

MacBook and (old) iMac (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908897)

Our kids (one turning 7 next January, two that turned 5 and 3 this October) use a MacBook and have a G3 iMac. These are useful for a few reason:
  • One button mouse. Yes, really. A one button mouse is a clear advantage here - although the Mac certainly can use context clicks, it doesn't have to and so the kids end up with a simple interface.
  • Durability - the MacBook has stood up well, and the G3 iMac just keeps on going
  • Parental controls - the MacBook runs Leopard, the iMac Tiger. In both cases the parental controls are sufficient to allow us to not have to watch every millisecond of what they're doing, though obviously I'm still around.
  • Cheap. Not the MacBook, but the G3 iMac was rescued from a bin and these days can basically be had free with a bag of crisps (or chips if you're in the US - I'm in the UK). The all-in-one design helps here too - you get a cheap system with nothing else required.

They spend their time on CBeebies (the BBC children's web site) and Nick Jnr playing Flash games, so actual operating systems are basically meaningless here. What's important is that it can show a web page and run Flash, which both machines can. The iMac acts as a DVD player for kids' films too.. Supervised, they also go onto YouTube to look at clips of Mario Galaxy etc.. to help them with their games. There's plenty of educational early school-type sites out there too which help with maths and spelling.

To the naysayers in this thread who don't think a two year-old can cope - yes, they certainly can and ours does (well, he's three and one month now but you get the point). At that age they're unlikely to knock you out a quick CMS in Python, but some of the web sites for children are very well thought out and they enjoy their time there.


How it should be? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908901)

There are a lot of games and educational toys for PC, some that could be good for that age. Now, should he have a special pc for him?

If so, maybe something very resistant, maybe portable, and with touchscreen (a pc/notebook keyboard probably will be too random for him, and a mouse/touchpad could have problems too) could be good. Maybe isnt exactly a desktop computer/notebook what you are looking for, a psp or an iphone with the right content could do the trick.

There are a lot of just toys that could be fine for him, things that he can operate, make sounds, ligts, music, whatever, but something programable could be flexible enough for tuning what he likes better or evolving what he plays.

Get him an iPod Touch (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908905)

Ignore the negativity here - not likely they have kids. My 2 year old son only wants to do what the bigs (big kids) do and that includes computers. But his little fingers easily take the keys right off the laptops. And I think he will eventually break the display so I try to keep it away, or only let him use it while I am right there. There's no end to what he likes on Youtube - particularly Tractor videos. I don't think I will get him an eePC for a few years again because of the keys. But, he is quite good with my iPhone, so I might get him a new iPod Touch. It is not so easy to break, no keys, the new one have little speakers and my little one has figured out how to start his favorite music.

Old Desktop computer or OLPC (1)

jrincayc (22260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908907)

I let my two year old try both my desktop computer and my olpc. Neither is really suitable to be used without an adult being in the room. With the OLPC XO-1, I was worried that he might be able to break off the antennas or break the screen/keyboard connector. What actually got first broke was one of the keys got torn off, but I glued it back on [] . Sugar does have some good activities that he had fun with, specifically the Record activity and TamTam mini (a sound making program). With my desktop computer he liked watching the worms screensaver, and making it make beeps. If I was choosing what to do right now for a two year old, I would probably put Sugar on an old desktop computer. On the other hand, I would not bother doing so unless the kid shows serious interest in computers. If the kid is coming up to you and trying to play with your computers, this will make them happy, otherwise it is not worth the bother. For what it's worth, he had far more fun with a old dsl modem, a old caller id, a ethernet hub and a couple ethernet cables and telephone cables than he has had with the computers so far. So on the dollars per amount of fun, real computers for two year olds are not very good. Also expect stuff to be broken, and some adult will have to be in the room watching or playing along. A regular laptop or netbook would probably be broken within hours by a two year old.

Getting them interested is the important thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908917)

I understand how you feel. Last year, my daughter was 2 years old and I took the opportunity to jump onto the OLPC G1G1 bandwagon. Regardless of all the system's shortcomings and benefits, the kid actually took to liking "being like daddy". She's now 3 years old and has now figured out how to turn the machine on, move the mouse, click on buttons,etc....

I observed that the following was true for her leapster and baby VTECH as well (yeah I know, lots of my relatives seem to think buying her gaming consoles is cool, none of them thought of getting her a PS3 or XBOX360 yet though...)

I think at this point, you won't get anything "productive" out of buying them a real laptop. They just want to be like you at this point.

Now, a year later, the kid likes to draw on the OLPC paint application. Last week, I left her unattended. She had turned the machine on, opened the paint application and drawn a big black circle on the screen. When I walked into her room, she had an orange wax crayon and was drawing on the LCD!!!!!!!

When I asked what's going on, she said she wanted to draw orange eyes on her picture of daddy..... Guess she still needs to figure out how to change the color of the paintbrush.

Geez...what a way to force stuff on your kid..... (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908927)

Are you out of your fucking mind? So what, your kid is potty trained now and you are going to start treating them like an adult? Huh? Parenting 101? A normal 2 year old is far too young to have a laptop. those choking labels for children under 3 apply to things other than just toys. furthermore, the child likely cannot even read yet. i mean what is possibly the rush to spend money so foolishly? (especially in light of recent events) t would be fine, however, to let the kid play with your computer every once in a while under supervision. i mean you are posting here, you should have probably like 5 pentium 3s laying around. through ubuntu and some paint program and maybe a couple of simple games on it and let the kid have at it. All, within supervision, of course. Geez, I really think I would hate to be your kid. its probably always whatever daddy wants to do. let your kid develop into their own persona and give them the steps and building blocks along the way to develop their abilities. you can't force something onto a kid. don't be the douchebag dad that makes his kid play football and join the boy scouts, because that is what he did as a kid. (though I must admit, I had a lot of fun as a boy scout) the kid is two. Appropriate playthings at age 2 include blocks (not legos, LARGE blocks) wooden car and train sets, dolls, things that are, you know, rated safe for children *3* and under. Take the kid outside and play in the park. Children really need engaging and giving them some mysterious electronic box that will likely hypnotize them is a dangerous thing. This also goes for TV. Introduce the kid to other kids. Give them a normal life and not one where they spend their childhood staring at some tv screen or some computer screen. If you let children follow their own path (with some guidance of course), you tend to get some pretty amazing results.

Wow (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908929)

I don't like the rudeness and negativity in this thread. I'm also pretty sick of the slashdot meme that lashes out against anyone not spending every waking moment engaging their kid in face-to-face learning endeavors. And you people saying 2 year-olds only care about flashing lights and animal noises either do not have a 2 year old or your 2 year old is just developmentally mediocre.

First of all kids that age have eleventy one toys that blink and flash. They leave them sit and gravitate to the computer because that's what's daddy is doing. Fostering that curiosity is a good thing. My 2 & 1/2 year old was using a touchpad on a dell playing games at, using the arrow keys, and the space bar, and doing a damn fine job of it. A year later... he powers it on, launches the browser, and clicks "his buttons" to get to his games and stories.

Encourage your kids. Don't place limits where there don't need to be any. Nobody asked how to get a computer to babysit a kid. But if you're trying not to burn dinner, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood isn't on, and your toddler already did 3 hours of blocks and play-dough, then a computer can be a great tool. Better than TV by a long shot. Manual dexterity, associating word images, and learning his alphabet are all things my 2 & 1/2 year did on a laptop. Now he's learning to read and add 1 + 2.. "Look Daddy I'm 3 just like the answer!" And he does it because he wants to. He's "working like daddy!"

We didn't get a kids lapotop. He just uses my wife's Dell.

To all you rude folks with no kids (or dull ones) offering unhelpful answers, if you can't play nicely then you need to put your keyboard away.

Here's an idea... (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908933)

Get him a nice red rubber ball and play catch in the backyard! The idea that you would stick a young child in front of a computer at 2 borders on child abuse. He needs to learn how to speak well, how to coordinate his muscles, and how to interact with people. Not how to punch buttons on a fucking box!

      While you are at it, buy yourself a copy of Dr. Spock's book and read it.


Why not? (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908935)

Contrary to all the advice from child "experts" posting on this topic, most of whom probably never raised a child, go ahead and get a laptop for your child.

If you bought books for his age wouldn't you have to hold them, turn the pages for him, and read the contents to him and point out the pictures? Of course, How is a laptop any different? It's not. The big advantage you'll have with a laptop is that as he gets older and smarter you won't have a pile of discarded books to dispose of. You'll just browse to websites designed for kids the current age of yours.

A few years ago I bought a laptop as a college graduation gift for my daughter and put MEPIS on in dual boot mode so she could use OpenOffice and not break her piggy bank buying an Office license. I suspected that her 4 year old son would want to use it too, and Linux has lots of free games for youngsters. He learned to use the mouse playing Bubbles, and it taught him timing and coordination as well. Now, at 7, he is a master of the keyboard and mouse, and holds no fear of either the computer or the Internet. Mommy has no fear either because he can't visit undesirable websites.

My Son began reading children's astronomy books to my second grandson before he was a year old. Later, my son began showing him NASA launch videos on Youtube. Now, at 2 1/2, he can name the planets on sight, and list them in order from Venus outward. He can name the class of rocket on any launch video he sees, and he can identify the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in the evening sky. Because his dad introduced him to his laptop computer when he was barely a year old, Jordan is comfortable around it and the mouse. To him it is just another tool, just like his toy tools set.

A laptop is just a more powerful and useful book. Oh, before some of you self-appointed experts spout off some more nonsense from Dr. BenjaminSpok about them turning into couch potatoes or social introverts, both boys are very outgoing, athletic and love to romp and play with their moms and dads, their friends, and with grandpa! :-)

Get the child a computer. It will do BOTH you a ton of good and will be a good bonding experience. Your "thing" together!

Stay away from Netbooks! (1)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908939)

If you want to get your 2 year old a coputer, get the CHEAPEST Refirb you can! The Eee PC and other "NetBooks" often cost MORE than a refurbished laptop, and have 1/3 the power and resources.

Another option is to get a computer that is not portable. Get a desktop, that way when the keyboard is full of PB&J you do not have to try to clean it, you just swap it out for another $2.00 keyboard. A desktop with LCD screen can be had for about the price of the Eee PC. And will have even more power than refurbished laptop!

The best solution... If you already have an existing laptop or desktop, get yourself an updated one, and give the old computer to the youngster. Someone at the age of 2 will not know the difference... And may even be more exited at having Dad's old computer than having a new one.

Give him a break (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908943)

He knows his child better than you do. My daughter is not a "prodigy" but she, too was fascinated by the computer when she was two. The first thing she grabs playing with her friend a few doors over is the play laptop (a toy her friend shows no interest in at all).

At two, she wanted to sit in my lap and play Tuxpaint (a.k.a. paint-penguins - since all the machines here run linux she calls all programs *-penguins - paint-penguins, running-penguins, sliding-penguins...)

At first she didn't have the motor skills to use the mouse - especially the full-sized one so she would point or describe what she wanted.

But kids catch you off-guard with what they learn. A bit before she turned three, she typed her name and "mommy", "daddy" plus a couple other words. She could also type the alphabet.

I picked up a laptop mouse that fit her hand and by 3-1/2 or so she was not only playing Tuxpaint on her own but navigating the menus to start the programs she wanted.

But be careful what you wish for. Kids may be good at figuring things out but they have lousy impulse control. If he learns how to do things on the computer, don't expect that telling him "you have to ask daddy before touching" will protect you. My daughter will jump in my lap and "get to work" - not so good when I'm remoted into work trying to repair a server.

There are some great free programs available - Tuxpaint for starters (available for Win/Mac, too). But given that they need supervision, a separate computer isn't necessary at this point. If you really want to get him his own, I think the OLPC is probably the best bet in terms of durability. I think that the buy one donate one deal is available again.

If the kid is like my nephew... (1)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908947)

If your child is anything like my nephew (not quite 2 year old), then I would have to recommend this [] , it would be the only electronic device that would last more than 5 minutes with him.

Some suggestions ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908949)

Some suggestions :

1. Crayons
2. Markers ( washable if your smart )
3. Read to him
4. Turn all screens off in his presence. Give him your attention, 100%

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