Is The iPad Good For Kids? We Review Apple’s Latest Device and Weigh In

When the iPad launched earlier this year, people were scrambling to purchase Apple’s latest hot new gadget and I for one, was quite skeptical. I felt as though this giant iPod Touch was over-hyped and quite honestly couldn’t understand how it would form useful in day-to-day life. Apple sent us the iPad to review a couple of months ago and I have to say, my views and findings on this gadget are not what I had expected.

For children, the iPad is a brilliant, educational device with a powerful format to teach and grow your child’s mind and intelligence. There is really no right or wrong way to hold the iPad. Whether your child flips it from right to left, up or down, the iPad automatically adapts even when turning it over and over again. The high-resolution, 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS display on iPad is stunning. Watching a movie, viewing photos, browsing the web, or watching videos on YouTube, gives you a clear, vivid and crisp picture thanks to the 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch.

There is no complicated controls on the device. You have an on and off button on the top for shutting it down (as well as a locking mechanism for those who prefer to “lock” the iPad in one position), the refresh button on the front, volume controls on one side and a spot for headphones if you so wish to use them.

When we received this device, my then 18-month-old daughter picked it up and would NOT put it down. I had downloaded a couple of iPad apps (Xylophone and First Words ) for them to test out and she picked it up straight away. The  First Words: Animals app, was her favourite.  For the word “CAT”, a cat was displayed along with the letters C, A and T scrambled across the screen. My daughter was able to “drag” the letters and place them in their proper spot after the 3rd try. To say I was amazed would be an understatement!

My eldest daughter has not really been able to give this much of a try as her sister’s new favourite word “iPad, iPad” will be broadcasted if anyone dares take the device away, at several decibels louder than the human ear finds comfortable (to put it mildly). My youngest is also able to switch back and forth from different apps on her own thanks to iPad’s simplistic design.

I liked that the built-in battery didn’t drain quickly. Apple says it should allow up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music or up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network. The Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating is nice for little fingerprints. You can clean the device easily with a damp cloth, with nary a trace.

Browsing the web is simple enough. If you have used an iPod Touch, it is basically the same thing just visually more appealing, larger and easier on the eyes. My favourite feature on was the downloadable iBook app. I loved how every time you purchase a book, it automatically lines up on a “virtual bookshelf”. The email attachment support is great as it supports viewable document types .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel).

Other features include:

  • Available in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
  • Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously
  • Dock connector port
  • 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
  • Built-in speaker
  • Microphone
  • Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

For traveling, the iPad is nothing short of a lifesaver – especially with little ones! Apple’s iPad Case (sold separately), folds in just the right places, acting like a stand and creating visually appealing angles to watch videos, slideshows or for just typing on the onscreen keyboard.

Our favourite apps were the

  • iXylophone for iPad – Play Along Xylophone for Kids Of All Ages
  • FirstWords: Animals
  • Learn Sight Words
  • Match & Learn
  • Dr. Seuss ABC

Gizmodo also has a great list of iPad apps for babies and toddlers!

All-in-all, the iPad is an excellent educational tool for toddlers and children. Many articles have been written on the benefits of the iPad with autistic kids. MacDaily News, The Globe and Mail,  and ZD Net are just a few that report amazing stories on children who have benefited enormously from the iPad.

For parents who are looking into purchasing the iPad for themselves or for their child, exercise caution! If you think you will be able to use this device for yourself, think again. I have yet to spend a full 30 minutes on the iPad in public unless hiding out in my bedroom. It is sure to become your child’s favourite “toy”!

Price: $429-$899 US, available through the Apple Store.

*Thank you to Apple for sending us the iPad for review!*

Photo Credit: Apple and Nadia Carriere