Would You Buy Your 5-Year Old an iPod?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1/7/2010 Update at the end of the post

I was flipping through O Magazine and saw a small piece where the reporter asked a fashion designer what he'd be packing in his beach bag this summer. One of the items he'd include is an iPod Touch for his five-year old. Five. Not 12 or 15. Five.

Um, what's a little person barely out of toddlerhood doing with an iPod Touch? That's quite a hefty piece of technology to be buried in the sand. I let Tyler use mine occasionally but would never consider getting him his own. Even if I had the money (and I don't, mine was purchased with birthday money), I wouldn't buy him one. He's just too young.

I'm still getting a lot of comments on this post so I wanted to share my feelings now.  When I wrote this Tyler was a few months shy of turning 7. At the time, he was not mature or responsible enough for his own iPod Touch. He's 8 now and I'm still not sure *I* would spring for him to have one of his own.

He sorta kinda tricked his Grandpa into buying him a Nintendo DSi. He's had for about half a year. He's been very careful with it in that he has not mishandled it, but he couldn't find it for a few days and we all thought it was lost. He forgot he'd put it in his Ta Kwon Do bag.

As some people have pointed out, the games for the iPod are much more affordable than Nintendo. I totally agree. Downloading an app for $1.99 versus buying a cartridge for $30-40 is a no brainer. It really is up to each family. If your 5 year-old is responsible enough to have $200 worth of technology, go for it. I think buying something in that price range for that age sets a bad precedent.

Now that Tyler has his DSi, we've told him we're not buying games for him (except for birthday gifts etc.) He's had to earn and save up money to buy what he wants. He's learned how much things cost, how long it takes to save for something and how long it takes him to earn money with his allowance. Those are concepts I think a 5 year-old is just starting to grasp and can't really put into practice yet.

Tyler would have been waiting a long time for us to buy a DSi. We have very strict usage rules with it (and the TV, Wii and computer). He can't sit in front of a screen all day. If he chooses to spend his morning watching TV, he can't play the computer at night too. This is another issue I have with kids and technology; how they encourage couch potato-ness and limit imagination. Again, 5 is a little young to start this behavior pattern.

I did buy an MP3 player for a Christmas gift but it's not a name brand. Tyler is perfectly happy with it and if he loses or breaks it I'm only out $12 ($22 on Amazon but I had a $10 credit). 

Every family is different. Do what feels right for you. I still think 5 is too young (I agree with Anonymous below about maturity and milestones), but if your kid is more mature and responsible than mine was at that age go for it.


  1. My best friend bought her daughter an iPod for Christmas last year. She uses it. My son doesn't know what to even do with an iPod although he asked for one cause he always sees mine. Ironically, his favorite type of music is Metallica (thanks Daddy).

    He does play the Wii and XBOX. But we already had those in our house. He's getting a computer, but basically its one of our old ones, rebuilt.

    It just seems they are so advanced these days...

    I just don't know..

    P.S. I will have to say that my son is pretty good at the xbox and wii.

  2. My son is a bit of a music fan so I got him a really cheap mp3 player to put some of his music on. I'm talking like 20 bucks. All he can do is push play, move forward or backward. Real basic stuff, and if he loses it or drops it in the toilet 20 bucks will not kill me.

    I'm with you, Mel. Yeah kids are more advanced technologically today (my son has been using the computer since he was 3) but an iPod Touch is a really expensive piece of equipment for a 5-year old.

  3. I'd probably go for the DS. The cell phone and tv in his room would never happen though. I think an inexpensive MP3 or iPod off Craigslist would make more sense than and iPod touch though--you're right that something like that is bound to get lost or ruined.

  4. An IPod touch for a 5 year old! That is crazy. When my son was five he wanted an IPod like his sisters, we bought him an inexpensive MP3 player. He loved it!

  5. I like anything that gives her a chance to learn to love music as much as we do. But we do feel fine with her just sharing ours. We also can't afford it :)

  6. I bought iPods for my girls for their birthdays this year, only after they proved they could hang on to their iPod shuffles for a year without losing or breaking them. They're pretty good about taking care of their stuff (ages 7 and 10). My 16-year-old, however, has washed, dropped, ran over, and lost practically every electronic gadget we've ever gotten for him. And the boy had the nerve to ask for an iPod touch for his birthday. Uh huh. So I can find it in the dryer? Not me, dude. Not me.

  7. Technology is already permiating every aspect of our lives, and our kids are products of the tech-product-frenzy age. I just posted review for a new iPod/iTouch app which targets high school SAT takers (I have a free giveaway too. Check it out!).
    Could a coloring by touching app be next?

  8. It does seem that kids are growing up much faster than I remember when I was the same age. But life is much different than it was way back then too (hot dang, I must be getting old!). My oldest, now 8, has owned two iPods that she cared for like they were delicate glass figurines. Both iPods broke without her doing - just plain malfunctioned. Now, she's asking for a cellphone. Her BFF is getting one when she turns 9 - ugh, really? I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it next May...

  9. An iPoD for a 5 year old kid? I cant afford to give that to my son at a very young age. Maybe when he's a teenager, I will buy him one. At least by that age, he already knows how to take care of it.

  10. My 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter both have iPod touch. They LOVE them!! They have really cool apps, I download thier favorite shows and they are enjoying music so much now. They walk around singing thier favorite songs. They have so much fun with them and have been taking very good care of them. I think moms should keep an open mind about things. All kids and families are different...

  11. When you think about it, an ipod touch is cheaper in the long run than a DS, plus you have the added videos and of course music. My son is getting one for his 5th birthday in May, so he can listen to music and watch cartoons. Plus $5.99 for an ipod game is alot cheaper than a $49.99 DS game....

  12. My son is turning five in two weeks. I have an iPad, which he's been using for games and he's amazing at getting around on it. So I figured I would get him something age-appropriate; the Leapster Explorer, which I did. I wanted to see his reaction to it so while in Target we went to the Leapster display. His first reaction was to try and "touch" the screen. When I pointed out that he needed to use the stylus on that little screen I was given a look of "how quaint". He was less than enthused. The Explorer, plus case, plus charging station and 1 game (toy story) cost me $135.00 on Amazon. There are only a handful of games, each ranging from $20 - $25. Buy four, factor in the original purchase and I'm already in for $200+. An Ipod Touch, 8 gig, is $220. Apps (and there ARE educational ones out there a plenty) are 99 cents to $5.00. Plus he has music and video (all put on and monitored by ME). For my money the touch is a better investment over the long run. That Leapster would be on the garage sale in a year. The Touch he can use for many years to come, provided we teach him how to take care of it.

  13. I am currently embroiled in this very debate at my house. My husband gave his permission to my show-off in-laws without my knowledge to get our daughter an iPod Touch for her 5th birthday. I hit the roof! She got a Leapster Explorer from Santa weeks ago, we have an iPad she has regular access to, and I don't want the responsibility of making sure the thing doesn't get broken or lost! I understand that it is great technology and she's certainly savvy enough to benefit from it, but I can't help feeling like there are developmental steps that should be followed, maturity allowed to happen, and a point at which you just know that would be too much. We are very much a middle class family, but my in-laws furnish us with a lot of technology we can't afford to purchase ourselves. Consequently, I'm afraid my daughter's peers will start to perceive her as spoiled and unrelatable, or us as irresponsibly living beyond our means. Please, if I sound crazy tell me!! Because I'm honestly not sure if this is a huge overreaction or if I am the only sane person in my house.

  14. I updated this post today because of Anonymous. What other people think about your kids being spoiled or the perception you live beyond your means shouldn't be a factor. No one knows your story but you. If your gut is telling you it's too much, then follow your gut!

  15. I got my first iPod Touch At age eleven. I take perfect care of it, and it's a year and a half old. The only thing that's ever happened to it is overheating, and as I live in Texas this was not really my fault. I would recommend not getting and iPod for a five year old. If you do, make them pay for it themselves. I'm surprised no one has mentioned this. Then, not only would you lose no money, but the child would take better care of it. I paid for most of mine, and in fact I'm using it to type this post. :)


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