Chromebook vs laptop: which is the best device for kids?

Computers are now part of the classroom because they make learning easier and more fun. Online learning is also growing in popularity, thanks in part to the pandemic, so kids need access to a computer. Before you buy an expensive tool, you need to make an important decision: Chromebook or laptop?

The debate between Chromebooks and laptops has been going on ever since the Chromebook hit store shelves in 2011. However, there are significant differences between the two devices that need to be considered. In this article, we’ll compare Chromebooks to laptops to help you decide which is best for your kids.

What is a Chromebook?

In a world dominated by Windows laptops and Mac computers, Chromebooks are often overlooked. Some people compare it unfairly without realizing that the Chromebook plays a role. For example, if all you’re looking at is hardware, you can stop right here because traditional laptops are better with heavy configurations for gaming and software development. Chromebooks are not designed to replace laptops.

A Chromebook is a lightweight computer that runs the Google Chrome operating system. The main interface is the Chrome browser. However, you can also install various applications such as word processors and use them offline. 

Chromebooks are primarily designed for browsing and light work. This makes the Chromebook ideal for research and study, especially on a budget.

Which device is more available?

Chromebooks are also on the bright side when it comes to internals. Local storage is comparable to that found in smartphones and tablets, and processors are much weaker than traditional laptops. That alone makes Chromebooks significantly cheaper than Windows and macOS laptops.

Since kids tend to take poor care of their devices, you should probably spend as little money as possible. Luckily, you can find a wide variety of Chromebooks ranging from $150 to $300, all of which are good enough for study and school assignments.

You can also find inexpensive Windows-based laptops starting at $400, but they tend to be very poor in terms of performance. Windows is a solid operating system that requires more hardware power than a Chromebook. Chromebooks win big when it comes to affordable prices. This is one of the reasons why schools that are low on funds are investing in Chromebooks for their students.

Portability

Laptops and Chromebooks are portable devices. It is obvious. However, Chromebooks are even smaller and lighter than most laptops. It would be much easier for kids to carry Chromebooks with them everywhere.

Chromebooks are thin devices, mostly due to less hardware and a smaller screen size. You can compare them to the MacBook Air and they are still slightly smaller and lighter. Many of them also rely on passive cooling, so they don’t have internal fans. This makes them much lighter than conventional laptops.

Battery life

If your kids take online classes or are able to use computers during class, you’ll need a device with a large battery. Access to an outlet can be limited, especially if there is a whole room of kids with laptops.

A typical laptop battery lasts for several hours, depending on how intense the tasks are. However, that might not be enough for a busy day at school or a Netflix marathon with friends. On the other hand, Chromebooks are renowned for their energy efficiency.

As mentioned earlier, Chromebooks have less hardware and processing power than Windows or macOS laptops. This is not a disadvantage for most children. Having less powerful hardware means the device needs significantly less power. Many Chromebooks have a battery life of over 10 hours.

Ease of use

A handy tool allows kids to focus on class, homework, or fun. This is especially true for young children who are about to receive their first computer.

Windows and macOS laptops are quite complex. There are countless distracting programs, features, and settings that can confuse kids. It also means that a lot can go wrong if you fiddle with the wrong settings or files. This does not apply to Chromebooks.

Chrome OS is incredibly simple. Not many apps and games come with Chromebooks, so it’s hard to distract kids. The device is designed primarily for viewing, learning and word processing. This allows children to quickly familiarize themselves with the virtual environment and focus on the important things.

Safety

Children tend to click on anything that catches their attention. They rarely pay attention to malicious links or suspicious image sources, so they only click to download viruses and malware. Sometimes Windows Defender protects the laptop, but other times you’ll have to clean up the system. Fortunately, this is unlikely to happen if your kids are using Chromebooks.

First, Chrome OS is very secure, simply because it is not yet a popular operating system. Viruses don’t often target this platform because it’s not worth it for a hacker. Second, being developed by Google means you need to sync your Chromebook with your Google account. As a result, your data is encrypted and cannot be easily stolen even if the device is infected.

Another interesting security feature is the sandbox. Each application is in a sandbox, so infections cannot spread from program to program. Add to that regular OS security updates and you have an almost indestructible device.

Overall, Chromebooks are the safest device for kids because getting infected is a problem even for them.

Parental control

All major operating systems have parental controls. This includes all traditional laptops as well as Chromebooks. You can decide which websites your kids can access, track how much time they spend online, what they do, and more.

Chromebook vs laptop for kids: how to make the right choice

A Chromebook might seem like the best choice if you want an affordable, plug-and-play computer for your kids, and in many cases, it is. However, there are several external factors that are not directly related to hardware, software, and features that should be considered.

1. Age

The first thing you need to consider is age or level of study. The needs of younger students are completely different from those of high school students.

Chromebooks lack sophisticated features and many programs like Photoshop are not available. They’re not great for photo editing, but they’re great for browsing and doing simple homework without distraction.

Get a Chromebook as your first computer or for regular school activities that don’t require demanding software.

2. Requirements

Whether you’re buying a Chromebook or a laptop, you need to consider the needs of your kids. Do they need a device to study, write and share assignments, and watch videos? Chromebook is perfect in this case.

However, if your child is older and has already started programming, photo editing, or other advanced tasks, a laptop is recommended.

3. Budget

If your budget is tight and you just can’t afford a decent laptop, just buy a Chromebook without even thinking about other factors. You have much better options for Chromebooks in lower price ranges than laptops.

So, have you decided which device is best for your kids? If you’re still unsure, here are the best budget laptops for kids and the best Chromebooks for kids.