I love watching my kids grow up…until it’s time to buy them gifts. Oh my goodness it is hard to keep holidays and birthdays exciting, let alone doing so without breaking the bank. No longer can you hit up Toys R Us for a doll, a game or a set of legos. Now it’s all electronics and tech all of the time. If you are faced with the task of buying for a teen or tween this season, as I am, I have compiled a list of 10 gifts that have received a teen stamp of approval, in my home at least.
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Microsoft Surface starting at $499
From the moment I saw the Microsoft Surface commercial, I was hooked. (I was even more blown away by the extended footage and the behind the scenes videos. But I digress.) The thing about it is, I had no real idea after watching it what Surface could do, but I knew I just had to have one. My kids agreed. Thanks to an intimate evening with my dear friend and colleague Afrobella, I now do in fact have one. Best of all, my instincts weren’t wrong. It’s as cool as the commercial, the music, the dancing and the snapping all led me to believe. Surface is a tablet that will entertain you but it will also keep pace with you professionally. The real problem you will have is getting it back from your kids, so you may as well buy them their own.
There are two different types of keyboards and one style comes in four different colors. Touch Cover, which comes in black with the unit or can be purchased in one of four others colors for $119. Touch is a very flat surface with clean lines and no key bounce back. The Type cover only comes and black and can be purchased for an extra $129. It feels more like a typical computer keyboard with key depressions when used. It’s all about your comfort and style preferences. (And your budget of course.) You can change your keyboard to fit your mood, your wardrobe, or your typing style. Best of all, it’s there when you need it and folds back easily when you don’t. It’s the size, and portability that makes Surface such a vital tool for your teen or tween. They can type or touch depending on their needs. With the front and back camera your student can also take notes while capturing video at a lecture or viewing video online for coursework. (This also works for video chatting, but a mother can only dream that her child would be more interested in the academic applications.) The one social application your kids won’t be doing on Surface is Instagram. At least not yet. However, the only drawback for me is that owning the Microsoft Surface does not automatically make me dance like they do in the commercials, but your teen probably won’t have the same problem.
Kindle Fire HD starting at $299
The Kindle Fire is an economical tech option for your tween in particular. I bought the original Kindle Fire for my eldest last Christmas. He was the one that hipped me to its existence. It has been a regular companion for him this past year. He loves watching movies and TV series on his Kindle. I got us a subscription to Amazon Prime for only $79 a year. It provides access to free 2 day shipping, instant streaming of tv shows and movies, and instant access to Kindle books. He has never wanted for Kindle entertainment.
With his Kindle my son is also able to stay on top of his social footprint, checking in on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Now as I mentioned, the only social drawback to the Microsoft Surface is the inability to access Instagram from the Windows Interface. That’s not the case with the new Kindle Fire HD. Although Instagram hasn’t officially made the app available to the Kindle Fire according to H2techVideos on Youtube, there is no need for you to wait for an official release. They have published a two part tutorial about how you can get full access to Instagram on the Kindle Fire HD right now. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. (Full disclosure I have not tested this out personally. Please let me know your experience if you try it.)
So even though his Kindle Fire is only a year old, my son is hoping Santa Mommy will deliver the new Kindle Fire HD this Christmas. Because just like him, Kindle is growing and maturing too.
Samsung Gallaxy S lll Price varies by retailer
My teen instructed me to get the Samsung Gallaxy S lll for both of us after painstakingly researching it versus the iPhone 5. He chose the Gallaxy because as he said, “Size matters, Mom!” It certainly does for him with hands like oven mits. But for those of us regular-sized people it matters too, in terms of quality and readability. I would never read a Kindle book on my old phone, but the GS3 screen is so wide and vibrant it is a pleasure to turn a page. Also the GS3 is an attentive phone. It stays on and working for you as long as you are looking at it. (I wish I could get my kids to do that). it responds to many other of your motions as well. And it learns!! It learns from your habits. (Again I wish my kids would…well you know what I am wishing.) And the cameras, front and rear, are serious. They are crisp, clear and, I’m going to use the word again, VIBRANT! I’m gushing, but my son is so in love with his GS3 phone I think they are now going steady. (You can get the GS3 form almost any of the Wireless carriers so be sure to price out the plans first for the best deal.)
iPod shuffle $49 Bestbuy.com
If you have gone ahead and gotten your teen a smart phone you may be inclined to think that you can ditch their iPods and mp3 players. But I warn you about making such rash decision. Yes, your child’s smart phone has music capabilities, but those capabilities can burn up their battery. And if your teen is at all like mine, they are often getting caught with a dead phone. I encourage my teen to use his iPod for music and saving his phone for everything else. Since they have such ultra capable phones there isn’t a need for a high performing iPod. You can just get them a $49 iPod shuffle. They can clip it to their coat or backpack or jeans and call it a day. Then you wil never again have to listen to the excuse, “I couldn’t call you mom, my phone was dead.” Well, we all can dream can’t we?
If your kids are anything like mine, keeping track of their earbuds is a seemingly impossible task. My kids are always begging to use mine because they can never find their own. That’s why I love the Jabra CLIPPER. It comes is four different colors (white, pink, turquoise and tangerine) and can be easily attached to bags, clothing, and belts to combine style and function with easy-to-use controls. (AND NOT GET LOST!) Plus the Clipper features noise-cancelling ear buds that black out external sounds so my kids can hear their favorite songs clearly and take calls without being disturbed by surrounding noises. (No more claiming “I can’t hear you Mom, I’ll have to call you later!”) It’s compatible with any device that has Bluetooth technology and can also connect to two different devices at the same time. Sharing is caring!
My son is going to be a driver in about a year. This has already started affecting my purchase choices; it absolutely influenced my recent path to find a car. (At 6’5″ he can’t fit in just any car.) But when he gets behind the wheel I want to make sure I have all that he needs to be safe and to avoid the temptation to check his phone instead of the road. That’s where the Jabra Bluetooth car speakerphones come in. I have had the pleasure of using their Drive, Cruiser2 and Freeway models, but they have just released their newest addition: the HD Journey.
JOURNEY ensures that conversations are crystal clear with HD Voice and enhanced noise cancellation technology, which eliminates unwanted noises from the road. It’s now easier than ever to enjoy hands-free conversations while driving with Voice Control, which lets you answer calls just by using your voice and Voice Guidance, which announces incoming calls.
I love that the Journey is HD, but the best part is that you can connect two phones. That means when I eventually have to share my car with my teen driver, I will also be able to share the the safety, security and reliability of the Jabra Journey HD.
WiiU starting at $299.99
This summer my kids and I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the brand new Nintendo Wii U. With Wii U it feels like you are in the game, not just playing it, which enhances the pleasure of the experience.
The Wii U™ GamePad controller removes the traditional barriers between you, your games, and your TV by creating a second window into the video game world. It incorporates a 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen, as well as traditional button controls and two analog sticks.
The GamePad also includes motion control, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and support for Near Field Communication (NFC). It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and weighs approximately 1.1 pounds.
My kids were all enamored with the Wii U system, but it was my son who was the biggest cheerleader for the system. He had been bugging me for an XBOX 360 for quite some time, but as soon as he saw the integrated graphics of the Wii U he became a Nintendo believer once again.
Verizon MiFi $49 with two year contract (data plan price separate)
All of these fabulous tech gifts become even more amazing when they are able to access wifi. With our childrens’ lives so mobile it’s hard to stay connected to the internet consistently. But if they have a personal wireless hotspot like the Verizon Wireless MiFi, they can be free to surf, play, work, and connect to their hearts’ desire. Let’s face it–so much of the work that our kids are doing for school requires connection to the world wide web. And if your kids are as busy as mine, then they are doing work in auditoriums, gymnastics centers, at volleyball and basketball tournaments and of course in the car, even more than they are doing it at home. Having the Mifi available helps them make maximum use of their time wherever and whenever they can grab it. The MiFi also allows for several products to be connected at the same time too, which makes car rides that much more pleasant. (Just sayin’!)
Smart Touch Gloves starting at $17.99
You are spending all of this money on smart technology for your teens and then you send them out in the cold with regular gloves. No wonder they are coming home with chapped hands–they are taking their gloves off so they can text, tweet, update and surf on the go. That’s why I think that smart gloves are the most intelligent way to go for your teens. That way they are happy because they can keep doing their mobile business, and you are happy because they are staying warm and protected while doing so.
Agloves have ten fingers of conductivity. The outdoor gloves come in one color but with three different fits, original, sport nad gripper. They also have a pair of white indoor/outdoor gloves. The Agolves start at $19.99 on the company website, but I found some of the original design on Amazon.com for $17.99.
ISOTONER® smarTouch® Gloves have only three fingers per glove that are conductive. However, they have a wider variety of colors, styles and fabrication. The options aren’t without cost though. The gloves start at $21 and go all the way up to $80.
HappyLight Compact Energy Lamp by Verilux $39 Amazon.com
One of the things I find with my teens is that they don’t get enough sleep in general, so waking up is painful, literally. That’s why I try to give them every advantage possible to make the transition from slumber more pleasant. (For me too, since I’m the lucky one who has to wake them up in the first place!) The Happy Light Compact Energy Lamp simulates daylight which helps the body function better, drawing your teen into a more alert state of being. That’s not all. Here are some product description highlights:
- Prompts the body’s natural energy enhancers to combat the effects of the winter blues, seasonal change, shift work, jet lag, malaise and fatigue
- Offers balanced natural spectrum daylight gently helps the body recalibrate and stabilize
- Brings natural spectrum lighting into any room or work area with soothing, energizing illumination
Your child has to have a light in their room anyway, so why not give them a little extra daylight in the process?
That’s my 10 but I have one more that I want to propose.
You have your child connected, entertained, warmed, and awake. Excellent. But just because they are young doesn’t mean that they don’t need a break. That’s why my final recommendation of a fabulous gift for your teen is a massager. Our kids are carrying around so much stress, and they are carrying it in their necks, their shoulders, and between their eyes. It’s hard to get them to settle down, but with the aid of a massager wand, wrap, or pad, it may just be a little easier.
What’s on your gift list for the teens in your life this season? I’d love to hear your ideas. I have a lot of years of teen gifting ahead of me. I’ll take all of the help I can get.
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