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Must-have gadgets for high-tech kids

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

4 Ways to tech your child

Keeping your kids — even the young ones — connected in a high-tech world means giving them the tools they need. Find out what you need to tech your child.

Tabeo 7-inch Tablet

“A tablet is 100 gifts wrapped up in one,” says Nicole Fonovich, co-author of the Luca Lashes educational apps. "Just like television had brought the family together in the 50's, or even radio prior to that, family tablet time can be a wonderful bonding and learning opportunity for families," says .

The Tabeo (Toys "R" Us, $150) is the tablet for kids. Featuring a 7-inch screen and Wi-Fi connection, it's pre-loaded with dozens of kid-friendly apps.

The Tabeo is big on protection. A soft bumper prevents damage from accidental drops and Internet safety controls enable parents to filter out the bad stuff. Now maybe your child will let you have yours back...

10 More tablets for kids >>

Nintendo Wii U GamePad

Nintendo Wii U GamePad (Best Buy, $299) is a new way to Wii. A 6.2” LCD touch screen brings the game right to your fingertips. The GamePad is a controller, monitor, camera, sound system and Web navigator in one — and you can play not just those in the same room but friends around the world in the new Miiverse gaming community. You can even use the GamePad to control your TV and DVR and surf the Web on your home TV screen.

The basic package includes an 8GB Wii U system, GamePad controller with stylus, sensor bar, console AC adapter, GamePad AC adapter and HDMI cable in a trendy compact design.

10 Great educational kids' games for Nintendo DS and Wii >>


Keeping up with the Joneses

“Kids don’t even see the difference between digital and non digital gifts. It’s all one big world to them, but the best digital gifts are the ones that allow them to create and explore," says Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times.

Each year, the must-have gifts get more complicated and more expensive. How can parents avoid going broke while trying to keep the kids up-to-date with ever-changing technology?

“The best way to prevent having to continually replace your children’s gadgets is to purchase quality, durable items,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance. As examples, Schrage recommends investing in more expensive but longer-lasting features, such as laptops with spill-resistant keyboards or shock-resistant cell phones.

Tech gifts for teens >>

Vtech Kidizoom Twist Camera

The Vtech Kidizoom Twist Camera (Amazon, $60) is the perfect starter camera for kids as young as 3 years old. Vtech improved on its already popular camera series with fantastic upgrades: Twist the camera lens for self-portraits, set the timer for group photos, shoot videos with audio and edit photos and send them to your printer and to friends.

This is a real camera that's made for kids. It features 2.0 megapixels, 4x digital zoom, 256 MB internal memory and SD card slot, PC/Mac compatibility and preloaded games.

Why you should give a kid a camera >>

Firefly GlowPhone

The Firefly GlowPhone (Firefly Mobile, $50) is geared for ages 8 to 12. In addition to being able to call Mom and Dad, children can dial from the 50-entry phone book, choose from preloaded MIDI ringtones and JPEG wallpapers, read text messages and play basic games.

Since there’s no keypad, your child can call only those numbers that are programmed. The GlowPhone features one-way text messaging: Your child can receive but not send texts. Available in pink and black, this kid-friendly phone even has a flashlight.

5 Reasons why your kids should have cell phones >>

Quality matters

Oftentimes, our kids know more about the devices they want than we do, so it’s important to do our homework before investing in a new gadget. “Unfortunately, when shopping for tech gifts for kids, price cannot be the only determining factor,” cautions Schrage. “Consider paying a little extra for a high-quality, durable item – it may be worth the extra investment.”

Schrage encourages parents to shop eBay and Amazon to find deals at reasonable prices. (They’re great places to sell the items you’re replacing, too!). “Also, consider signing up for email updates from the website FatWallet, which advertises both online and in retail stores the best deals for tech gadgets.”

More on parenting in a technological world

Technology helps disabled children
Kids and technology: Age-appropriate guide
Mom vs. Dad: Technology and your kids

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