Parents Urged to be Careful When Buying Smart Devices for Children


Teaching in the classroom is moving away from the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ and is being enhanced by the addition of smart digital learning devices, such as tablets and laptops.

The introduction of these smart devices has certainly aided the education sector, making the teaching and learning process more interactive, fun, seamless and integrated.

The vast improvement in literacy at the primary-school level has encouraged parents to purchase personal laptops, tablets and other smart devices to continue enhancing the learning process for their children.

Many parents will shop for these devices for back-to-school in September, and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is advising them to exercise caution when purchasing the technological devices for their children during this period.

In an interview with the JIS News, Information Technology Specialist at the CAC, Christopher Martin, says parents should do their research with the school before buying any smart device.

“Ask the teacher what the child will use the tablet or laptop for;  is it for math; will they be doing a lot of reading from the device; will they store a great deal of information on it and how long will they be using it for during the day,” he says.

Mr. Martin points out that ‘brand names’ are not synonymous with better quality, adding that the generic or not so popular brands may last longer, because some of these companies have been around for years.

He explains that the age and stage of the child can help parents decide which device to buy.

“Once parents consider the age, stage and intended use of the device, this will help you to narrow down based on specifications, size and price,” Mr. Martin says.


The IT specialist says that tablets are a good choice across grade levels because of their size, making them good for mobility and the storage capacity to hold several applications. He adds that because tablets have no physical keyboard, they are good for viewing content, using apps and playing games. They are also smaller and lighter, which means they are often used by very young students.

“If your child is at the basic-school level, it helps if the tool is light and easy to take around. The durability is also important at this age because of the constant interface. They are always touching the screen, so the device must be able to withstand that level of interaction,” he shares.

Mr. Martin says teachers can also download many interactive apps on the device which will make learning more fun. He adds that the parents will also benefit because the device is smaller and does not require a great deal of specifications, so they might end up paying less for it.

He says it is critical for consumers to know what they want before making a purchase, as this will eliminate them taking back the devices, which can sometimes lead to conflict.

Mr. Martin says that in addition to the obvious features of the devices, parents and consumers should pay attention to the battery life.

He explains that the battery life of the device plays an important role in the purchasing decision.

“A typical school day may run over six hours and if the child is using the device for most of that day, then ensure that you check the battery life of the device. You want to get longer usage and save money on electricity bill wherever it is being used,” he adds.

Mr. Martin says laptops or notebooks are ideal for the high-school group, because they are also light devices that can withstand the toughest school environments.

He says that another general tip that parents should consider when purchasing a smart device is warranty, pointing out that they should try to get six months to a year on all electronic and smart devices and ensure that the warranty indicates the time frame and what is covered.

The IT Specialist says compatibility with other devices is another important requirement, as the laptop must be able to connect to a printer, other tablets, phones and Wi-Fi.

For her part, Director of Communication at the CAC, Latoya Halstead, advises that parents and guardians should ensure that proper security features are added to the technological devices before giving it to a child.

She says while it is good that these smart devices enhance the learning experience, if not monitored, they can also expose the children to lewd content.

“The security software will ensure protection and parents will be able to supervise the child, the content and with whom they are interacting,” she adds.

Miss Halstead notes that security features can also block the child from gaining access to the World Wide Web and prevent the use of some apps.


Source of Article: Jamaica Information Service