Wondering how to pick the perfect camera for your child? Here's the nitty gritty about choosing your child's first camera, including what to consider, what's available, and what works best with little hands.
Every parent knows that children love cameras, from either side of the lens. Digital photography has made it fast and affordable to take dozens -- or even hundreds or thousands -- of pictures when trying to get the perfect shot, which means our children often see us with a camera in our hands. And of course our children want to be like Mom and Dad, and have a camera of their own.
For many of us, buying a camera for our wanna-be-photographers is the only way to keep our own cameras safe. Purchasing a child-friendly camera is also a terrific way to share one of our favorite hobbies, and to encourage our children to look more closely at the world around them.
When choosing a child's first camera, you'll want to consider the following questions:
- Is the camera easy to use?
Regardless of the child's age, a first camera should be easy to use right out of the box. A simple to operate point-and-shoot model will meet the needs of all beginning photographers. To guarantee success, your child's first camera shouldn't have too many buttons or options.
- Is the camera friendly to small hands?
Your child's camera will need to be large enough to be held easily, and buttons should be large and conveniently placed. Preschool and kindergarten aged children do well with the Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera, which has large dual hand-holds with slip-resistant bumps for a steady grip. Slightly older children sometimes prefer the Kidz Cam Digital Camera, which is much smaller and requires a much higher degree of fine motor skills (note: the Kidz Cam doesn't have a display screen, so it's necessary to transfer the pictures to a computer in order to view them).
- Are the viewfinder and LCD display screen large enough?
- Is the camera durable and will it hold up to everyday bumps and spills?
- How much memory does the camera have, and can the memory be expanded?
Cameras that allow you to install a larger memory card will allow your child to take more photos.
- Does the camera come with a USB cable to connect to your home computer?
You'll need to transfer the pictures from the camera to your computer, or perhaps you'll want to connect the camera directly to a printer. Either way, you'll need a cable to hook the two together.
- What type of software is included with the camera?
You need software to transfer photos from the camera to the computer or printer. Most newer home computers have photo transfer software installed, and the camera will also have appropriate software included on a CD. If you lose the software CD, you can usually download a free copy of your missing software directly from the camera manufacturer's website.
Some children's digital cameras come with additional software that allows the child to create projects with their photos.
Here's a list of cameras that might be appropriate for your child's first camera:
FISHER PRICE KID TOUGH DIGITAL CAMERA:
640 X 480 resolution for quality 4" x 6" prints
Dual eye viewfinder
1.3" color LCD preview screen for viewing pictures
8 MB built-in memory stores up to 50 pictures
SD memory card slot for increased storage capacity
Easy navigation menu
USB cord for computer and printer connection
CD with digital photo software
Suggested for ages 3 and up
Retail Price: $69.99
PROS: This is the camera all the kids are asking for, and its my personal favorite for durability and ease of use. It stands up to the inevitable bumps and drops of everyday use by younger children, and the viewfinder and LCD screen are both very child-friendly
CONS: The photo quality isn't as good as with most digital cameras designed for adults, but it takes better pictures than I took with my first Kodak and Polaroid Swinger when I was a kid. Since children tend to move any camera when taking photos, super-fine photo quality isn't my top priority in a first camera.
KIDZ CAM DIGITAL CAMERA:
- Combination photo camera, web camera, and video camera
- Single eye viewfinder
- No LCD screen
- Stores up to 150 photos
- Software included for 5 photo games, slideshow maker, story maker, and editing center
- Suggested for ages 6 and up
- Retail Price: $29.99
- PROS: Lots of storage space and software. Can be connected to a computer and used as a webcam. Can be used to shoot and share short videos.
- CONS: Smaller size is harder to hold. No flash. No LCD screen, so pictures must be transferred to computer for viewing.
HELLO KITTY DIGITAL CAMERA:
- More sophisticated camera is more like "adult" cameras
- Single eye viewfinder
- 8 MB memory for up to 50 photos
- USB cord
- Built-in flash
- 5-second self timer
- Neck cord
- Editing software for making "kitty-ized" borders, frames, etc.
- Recommended for ages 8 and up
- Retail Price: $39.99
- PROS: Feels and functions more like an adult camera. Built-in flash and timer. Editing software for working with photos.
- CONS: Too difficult for small hands and young photographers. Neck cord poses choking hazard.
SPY GEAR DIGITAL SPY CAMERA:
- Small retractable digital camera attached to cool-looking plastic sunglasses with UV protection
- Handheld remote with 36" cable
- USB port
- Stores up to 20 color photos in 480 x 640 resolution
- Recommended for ages 6 and up
- Retail Price: $29.99
- PROS: Popular with boys. Fun toy for creative play. Attachments available for wireless text-messaging between two Spy Cameras.
- CONS: Stores few photos. Pictures must be transferred to computer to view. No viewfinder or flash. USB cable not included.
If you're buying a camera for a child 8 years old or under, the FISHER PRICE KID TOUGH DIGITAL CAMERA is the way to go. It's easy to use, durable, and incredibly popular with children and adults alike, and has won the following awards:
- Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2006
- Parent's Magazine Best Toys Of The Year 2006
- Children's Technology Review Editor's Choice 2006
- Toys 'R Us Hot Toy 2006
- Toys 'R Us Fabulous 15: Best Of Holiday Season 2006
- Walmart Top 12 Toys 2006
- KB Toys Hot Holiday Toys (ages 3 years +) 2006
Have a great time taking and sharing pictures with your child!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Thanks for taking the time to read my guide to digital cameras for young children.
Visit My *About Me* Page to send me a note, to ask a question, or to read more about my background as a Kindergarten & First Grade Teacher, Literacy Coach & Teacher Trainer, and Author Of Beginning Reading Books For Children. I'm always happy to answer questions about choosing age-level appropriate educational toys.
You can also Visit My eBay Store ~ Victoria-Claire-Wholesale ~ to check out the latest and greatest educational toys for kids of all ages.