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How to Buy a Computer For Your Child

5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

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How to Buy a Computer For Your Child

LyndseyLew Photography - used by permission

Many parents are intimidated by the thought of purchasing a computer for their child. To some, a big purchase like that, with so many options and upgrades, can feel like purchasing a new car. Here are some questions to answer first before you plunk down your money on a new machine.

What is the Main Use?

Start at the start. Why does your child need a computer? The process of buying a computer for your child has to extend beyond just what’s the best or fastest machine. Is your child a youngster, or heading off to college, or somewhere in between? Make a list of all the reasons your child needs a computer, and then you can work from there. Once you’ve identified what it will be used for, you’re much less likely to buy a computer that’s either not powerful enough, or too powerful and expensive.

What is Your Budget?

Don’t be afraid of the “B” word. There are so many choices when it comes to buying your child a computer, but you need to know what you can afford before you start shopping. Be realistic about what their needs are, then assess how much money you want to spend on the machine. This is relevant, important information to have on hand before you ever start looking through a local store, or online. You don’t want to get to the store, get sold a high powered machine that you couldn’t really afford, and end up in a bad spot financially. There are many great options for computers that won’t cost your retirement.

Laptop or Desktop?

This is another basic but important question. Does your child need the computer to be mobile? Or is this going to be a machine that stays tethered in your home? If you are certain that this is going to become part of your home furniture array, then you should stick with a desktop computer. If mobility is a priority, then you’ll be looking for a laptop. If there’s even a chance you might want to let them take it to school, work, or a friend’s house, then you should go with a laptop.

Mac or PC?

Plenty of web space has been devoted to this question, but it’s an important one for any parent looking to buy their child a computer. There are the die-hards on either side of this debate, and plenty of good reasons to prefer one or the other (my household uses both). Do a little research and figure out what's going to be the best option for your family.

New or Used?

Believe it or not, because of the fast advances of technology, you can find some great deals on computer models that are lightly used. Because they’re not the newest release, the demand for them goes down, and therefore so does the price. Given the answers to the previous questions, would a lightly used or refurbished computer work well for your child’s needs? Many manufacturers have a strict refurbishing process that assures the quality is not sacrificed. Beware of websites that are not reputable, and of online marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, unless you really know what you’re doing. If you feel confident diagnosing the quality of a used computer, then these options are actually not a bad place to find a deal.

Buying a computer for your child can seem like a daunting task. If you take your time, and answer these basic questions, you’ll end up with a computer that fits your needs and the needs of your child best.

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