The best first laptop for a child? Reader Q&A

My 10-year old son is definitely ready for his own laptop, but I have no idea what to get him! Can you help with a child-friendly option? -Amy

Funny you should ask, Amy. I just decided to get a laptop for my 9-year old, which was a lot easier than I expected. Here are a couple of suggestions that I hope will help you out. –Kristen

Now my first instinct was to buy a new laptop, like the ASUS X501U that we recently featured. At under $350 the price was definitely right, and so I figured that would be a good option. If you’re in the market for a new computer, I’d recommend taking a look at it.

dtowntech on cool mom tech

Another option, which is what I ended up with, is to get a used, refurbished laptop, which you can find at online stores like or J+R. In fact right now, J+R has a wide selection of refurbished HP laptops and notebooks starting at $276.

You can also check out the options at your small, local computer repair shops. Like Dtown Tech near me, The Little Laptop Shop in New York, or Tekserve if you’re looking for anything Apple at all.

acer computer for kids on cool mom tech

I decided to stop in to Dtown Tech to see what they’d recommend and ended up purchasing a completely refurbished ACER (above) that included a 6-month warranty and Microsoft Office already installed. The whole package cost me much less than anything comparable that was new.

To get it child-ready, I’ll be adding Net Nanny, as well as a couple of safe search engines for kids. And of course, Minecraft, per my daughter’s request, which they were nice enough to load up for me while I was waiting.

Something to keep in mind: If you’re a Mac lover (like me), they can be very expensive to repair and replace. So particularly for younger kids, a PC can be a good, cost-effective way for them to get started before they upgrade to a shinier, more expensive model of their own. The parts for PCs are cheap and easy to find, which is an important point if your kids are hard on their gadgets.

Got more tech questions like this? Drop us an email and we’ll see what we can do!

Kristen is CEO/Co-Founder of Cool Mom Picks and a busy mom of four kids who lives in the Philly 'burbs. Though really, what mom isn't busy?


  • Reply June 17, 2014


    Thanks for the pointers. I’m leaning towards a refurbished laptop or desktop for our 11 year old, who also loves Minecraft and will probably learn to do at least some video editing. So something fairly recent is a good idea for us, and although we too prefer Macs, we’ll probably get him a PC. It will allow him to be fluent in both operating systems (since speaking a 2nd human language didn’t work out so well), and maybe from there he can branch out!

    Appreciate your site and your thinking!

  • Reply November 13, 2014


    I think a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series would be good for your son. I have one with Intel Pentium. it would be a perfect christmas gift for him. It has a bunch of godd prices but the best is at Micro Center.

  • Reply December 19, 2015


    I am a huge advocate for getting a kid their own computer. While I know you are your article is geared towards laptops, there is one thing I would like readers to consider. Kano is a computer geared towards kids that teaches them to code, and it does it well. The kit costs 150 and comes with a Raspberry pi, a speaker and a very nice keyboard. But you can buy your own Raspberry pi B and install the OS for free. Also keep in mind that they will need a monitor. What you get is a Linux OS geared toward young minds that will help them learn to create their own computing solution instead of what Apple or Google gives them. Just my 2 cents.

    • Liz
      Reply December 21, 2015


      Thanks Jeremy, we’re big fans of Raspberry Pi and Kano computers – we even included it in our birthday gift guide

      It’s definitely a great gift option for those families who feel confident getting all the components together and building their own. However I see it as more of a coding/construction gift than a “perfect” first computer. Most parents don’t choose Linux computers for their kids because they’re looking for something simple out of the box, that they’re familiar with, that’s compatible with the other devices in the house; and families tend to have iOS devices more than any other, with Android/Windows just behind.

      But if you have a kid 6-12 who’s really interested in the nuts and bolts of computer hardware and coding, absolutely!

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