How to Buy a Laptop for a Child

A father and son discuss code

It’s the Christmas season, and as parents we’re likely being bombarded by our children for various requests. This year was the first year my son asked for a laptop. He’s nine. Even as someone who wants his children to be involved in technology, I wondered if nine was too young for a laptop. Part of the struggle was this would be somewhat a “learning laptop” for him. He hasn’t had to care for a computer on his own. So dropping $600 or more on a laptop seemed a bit much.

Here are some steps I took while figuring out what to do, and I hope this helps you!

1. Ask Your Child Questions

A father and son discuss codeFind out the main reason he wants a laptop. Is it to play video games? Is it for homework? Is it a school requirement? Is it to learn to code? Bonus points should be allotted if the answer is yes to coding. Dig into the basic questions because these have very easy and tangible answers. Open ended questions can get him lost in the actual why. So ask for examples.

2. Learn About System Requirements

This one used to be harder to come by before search engines. Today, you can search for virtually any “*software* system requirements”, and you’ll get a good idea on what the bare minimums should be. Don’t immediately jump at the cheapest. In the case of my son, he wanted to play Minecraft, so I needed to find out what the real minimum should be. I searched “minecraft system requirements” and the first result answered my questions. It should be mentioned he did say he wanted to learn to code. The little guy knows how to work his father.

3. Shop Around

Use the system requirements you found to locate good laptops. Look across different laptop manufacturers to get a good sense of what they offer. It’s easy to jump for the cheapest, but you need to find the laptop or computer that meet the minimum or recommended requirements. The good news is you can often shop and filter down by the specifications so it’s a lot easier to locate. To save yourself jumping from site to site, Amazon provides a good look at a lot of different manufacturers from one location.

4. Consider Certified Refurbished

If you’re like me, you might start to feel discouraged because all of these laptops are more priced for adults and working professionals instead of children. There is another alternative that can still make your child’s Christmas wish come true. Look for certified refurbished laptops. A certified refurbished laptop is a used laptop that has been repaired by the manufacturer, and many do come with a 1 year warranty – the same as the shiny new laptops.

A certified refurbished laptop can save you up to 60-70% at times from the cost of a brand new laptop. This is where I struck gold. I found an HP laptop with a 1 year warranty that plays Minecraft and has some additional power to learn to code for $240 instead of the going rate of $600 or more. This Christmas, Mom and Dad (or Santa) are heroes.

Do you have any questions about laptops or computers we can answer? Please leave a comment below.