From Bob - Thanks for all the input
Thanks to everyone that provided feedback to my question, whether it was in the form of laptop recommendations or parenting advice it was all appreciated.
To those that offered parenting advice I agree that in today's world finding the proper balance between technology and letting kids just be kids can present some unique challenges. To that end, I agree with the feedback that technology can not be a substitute for parenting. Although I consider myself an advocate for the use of technology to improve educational opportunities available to children, at the same time I recognize there are many other opportunities to do the same thing.
To the submitter that suggested we "take a hike instead", I would ask why not do both? In time since I submitted the question, our family has gone on 2 campouts, one that included a 10 mile bike ride with stops to a wildlife sanctuary and a historic site and the other hikes to tide pools to observe ocean life. There is a wealth of hiking information available via the internet which helped my sons plan these events in additional to using research from good old fashion books. (You can't easliy take a laptop rock hoping to a tide pool, but in our tests books thus far have held up well.)
To those concerned about exposing my sons to technology too early, I am fortunate in that of my sons attend a school where technology is incorporated into the educational curriculum. We are careful to monitor the "pace" to ensure that what they are doing at home is not getting ahead of what is being done at school. That said, my 11 yr old has been producing MS PP presentations for two yrs and I was in my thirties before I was doing the types of things he is already doing. Proof to me that as technology moves ahead there is a choice to embrace it and move ahead with it, or disregard it and accept that it will move ahead regardless. I see this as a very personal choice, and although there are days when a "simpler" life with less technology sounds appealing I have chosen to move forward with it to the extent possible.
Since my question was in regards to technology I did not elaborate on other aspects of ensuring a balance of activities for children, but doing so is an essential part of a parent's responsibilities. As some suggested not all children will be or should be forced to be interested in all things. Parenting is all about creating opportunities for children to experience for themselves the things that interest them, and then providing the nurturing to allow them to excel at the things that do. As a coach, scout leader, and instructor I have seen my share of children who really want to be part of something but are unable to due to lack of parental support, and likewise those that really don't want to be part of something yet are not given the option. Allowing children to experience as much as the world has to offer while keeping it all in balance has to be the hardest part of parenting. Again, thanks to all of those that provided feedback.
In regards to other feedback I received, we already have two desktops at home so adding the laptops is purely a mobility issue. For example we will be "away" from home of a majority of the summer. As to why not other technology, the bottom line for me is that a laptop is to me the perfect all-in-one device. You can watch movies, play games, stay in contact in friends, and it's harder for them to loose than a smart phone. (If that were not the case, I likely would not have submitted my question.) Even though I consider it the perfect all-in-one device, the reality is that kids are kids and even when they become adults things still get broken. (For example a member of our family, who I will choose not to mention, could write the book on "How to break a cell phone in 30 days or less".) It just so happens that my son's hand held video games have now out lasted several phones. Interesting enough to that point, they (my sons) understand that if a piece of technology they are using gets broken or damaged, they don't have the ability to just run to the store and get a new one. I think in general we would all treat technology a little more carefully if it were not so convenient to replace.
My reason for mentioning the gaming aspect in my original post was because that happens to be the area that I am least familiar with, especially when it comes to memory and video requirements for interactive gaming via the internet. Thanks to those that provided responses to help enlighten me.
I hope I have addressed some of the questions that I have received in response, although I realize that I have not addressed them all.
I have been fortunate to have witnessed tremendous advances in computing in my lifetime. (My first "computer" was a Commodore PET, that is if you don't count the Pong game we played on the TV.) Today I can do more on my smart phone, than what in school I had to spend hours programing into a mainframe to do. To that end allow me to add that I view technology as a fantastic tool that can open young minds to worlds that they may otherwise never have know. (With the proper parental controls in place to ensure the content is appropriate.) As the World continues to get "smaller" with the need for societies to reach beyond their known boundaries, I hope to provide my children with the opportunity to do so within a save, secure, and loving environment.
Thank you to all that responded to my post.
Bob (Chris and William's Dad)
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