Does your yr 7/8 dc have their own computery device?

(26 Posts)
Takver Wed 11-Sep-13 20:04:54

And if so, what is it?

We have two macbooks, both of which are our work computers, and it is starting to be a source of conflict (ie dd wants to do homework/other stuff on the computer, we're using them). Hence thinking vaguely about laptop as a possible christmas present.

The problem is, we really would rather not deal with a pc (viruses, neither of us used to the operating system etc). But, even a 2nd hand macbook (which ours are) is pricey. A tablet - ipad or similar is the obvious alternative - but will this do for school stuff? I'm thinking not, as you can't for example save work to a memory stick?

butterflymum Wed 11-Sep-13 20:15:48

Our three have shared an Acer netbook for schoolwork for past few years. We use Linux operating system, so viruses are less of an issue.

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 20:23:50

Does it need to be a laptop? Mac Minis are very aggressively priced, and you can buy all the other odds and ends (a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard) cheaply if you haven't got them lying around anyway. Both my children had Mac Minis of assorted vintages for Y7/8.

Hulababy Wed 11-Sep-13 20:27:17

DD has a desktop computer. It's in her "playroom" which tbh is now more of a study. She's an only child so there is no one to share it with. If we had another child I guess it would be a shared device though. DD's is a PC rather than a Mac though.

She also has an iPad - but that is no use for most school work, bar internet research.

BadRoly Wed 11-Sep-13 20:30:34

We have given the dc's dh's old Netbook to use and they share that. Rule is that homework has priority over playing.

They don't know it yet, but they will shortly be getting my old laptop too as it has MS office on it and I have a shiny new iMac grin

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 20:38:48

By the way, my kids have now got through to sixth form without a hint of the dread Office: iWork has been more than adequate. It would therefore be interesting to see how using an iPad with a clip-on keyboard worked, with Pages/Numbers/etc, especially as the apps are now free.

I've seen university students iPad + Keyboard + Pages to write substantial essays, so I suspect it's doable. But as the OP says, if you needed to extract the work onto a memory stick you'd have to use another machine to shift it from iCloud to the memory stick.

Ladymuck Wed 11-Sep-13 21:02:56

Mac mini works well here. Not a fan of getting them to work on ipads, but for my own purposes I use Dropbox between all the machines (have it on iphone, ipad, mini ipad, macbook and imac). I can create and save a doc on ipad to dropbox, and then print it from a mac later. DS emails himself his homework usually. Not sure I understand his VLE but never had a problem. But totally get that they seem to need computers for homework these days.

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 21:30:10

" I can create and save a doc on ipad to dropbox, and then print it from a mac later. "

We have an airprint enabled printer, so we can print direct from iWotsits, which works well.

Out of derailing curiosity, why do you use Dropbox rather than iCloud to synch a bunch of iOS/OSX devices?

Ladymuck Wed 11-Sep-13 21:46:10

Dropbox gives us more free spacegrin. iCloud is only free for the first 5GB.

sashh Thu 12-Sep-13 06:50:03

The problem is, we really would rather not deal with a pc (viruses, neither of us used to the operating system etc).

Just because a laptop has a windows operating system does not stop you installing a different one.

mummytime Thu 12-Sep-13 06:53:35

I'd suggest a PC based computer would be best, as school system's still can't always work well with Macs. Do you have free virus software available from your broadband provider? If she doesn't download (especially games) that should minimise infections.

Chopstheduck Thu 12-Sep-13 07:03:51

we're a mac family but the kids aren't allowed on my imac or dh's macbook! we have an old windows laptop that the kids use. Viruses aren't really an issue, because there is nothing on there which really needs backing up - so if they get a virus, I wipe it and restore the OS again. Only had to do it twice in about 5 years.

Tablets are ok for most things though. My three boys are still expected to write their homework down with a pen and paper, so the tablet is perfectly adequate for research. We also have a keyboard to use with the tablets if need be.

Computability wise, we've had no issues accessing school services via macs. iworks documents can be saved fine to be office readable. I think the only thing I did struggle with was a keynotes presentation, which I couldn't seem to make windows compatible.

PareyMortas Thu 12-Sep-13 07:09:42

We're a mac family, but both dd's got very cheapy pc laptops for birthdays/Christmas in year 7. They tend to use pcs at school so it helps to be compatible. DS is in year six and will get the same. The following year they have to make do with a satsuma for Christmas grin.

Takver Thu 12-Sep-13 08:51:36

Lots of interesting thoughts - thanks.

I hadn't thought of a desktop (lived with no mains electric for a number of years, so we've had laptops only since the mid 90s). The main disadvantage I think is that it would have to go in dd's room, as there isn't anywhere else, & I'm just a little wary of that. Given the choice she would rather work downstairs with others around anyway, and it just means we have an idea what she's up to.

"Just because a laptop has a windows operating system does not stop you installing a different one." Mac OS on a PC isn't that easy! Don't really want to go down the Linux route.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 08:55:43

as school system's still can't always work well with Macs.

I've got an entirely non-Windows household (OSX, Linux, Solaris, iOS) and I've had no problems at all. We don't even have Office for Mac installed on the kids' Macs; iWork has been fine for all school purposes (now sixth form). The compatibility argument is wildly overstated.

The problems mostly arose because a lot of websites, particularly those developed by idiots people with a limited appreciation of portability issues, only worked with IE6, and IE6 was only available on Windows. And were often broken in other ways (only worked on 1024x768 monitors being a particular favourite). But IE6 is dead, and the majority of home users have no access to it (the NHS is a different story) because it's not supported on either Win7 or Win8. If a school still has a website which it expects children to use which only works on IE6 on XP with Active X, they will have bigger problems than it not working on a Mac.

www.ie6countdown.com

Takver Thu 12-Sep-13 09:18:37

YY to the websites developed by idiots, been there, got the t-shirt. Fingers crossed, it doesn't seem to be such a problem these days, though

I'm imagining that for the moment dd isn't going to need to do much beyond word processing / research / the odd Powerpoint type thing-y anyway for school work? TBH its out-of-school stuff that she really wants to use the computer for grin

Takver Thu 12-Sep-13 09:21:54

I guess it comes down to:

a) shell out for a Mac
b) live with the irritation of PC OS when dd wants help (never does what you bloody expect)
c) tell her no, she can't use the computer, tough!

or I guess d) she has a PC and solves any problems herself - possibly a little unrealistic just as yet (for her, I know plenty of 11 yos would be fine).

HmmAnOxfordComma Thu 12-Sep-13 10:12:46

We have never, ever had a virus on all the pc laptops, desktops etc that we've ever had. Never happened. Just saying grin

Takver Thu 12-Sep-13 10:34:11

I know, I know, I think DH in particular is just irritated as my DPs specialise in getting viruses on their PC (despite anti-virus software) and asking us to sort it out (despite the fact that neither of us has actually used a PC regularly since about 1995) grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 12-Sep-13 13:59:07

My DD1 (who is Y11) does all her schoolwork, in and out of school, on an ipad with a keyboard. She has dyspraxia and thus has special dispensation to use it. She also has a macbook (cast off). My Y6 and Y9 kids don't use a keyboard in school - but DD2 is about to start, for the same reason. They both have ipads also, DS has an old Mac mini for homework and DD2 has a slightly newer mac mini but barely uses it. DS uses memory sticks, DD1 uses dropbox and iCloud.

MadeOfStarDust Thu 12-Sep-13 14:21:51

If folk don't download executable crap they won't get viruses - never had one - and I started working in computers when they were graphite card readers the size of a mini.....

We have a family laptop - works well shared on a who needs it most urgently basis --install a decent virus/malware checker (McAfee does for us) and insist on NO downloads - you can set most of them with parental controls to stop the kids downloading ANYTHING anyhow...

Our school system will not work properly with a mac, but is really easy to use with a windows laptop..

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 12-Sep-13 14:25:06

madefostardust There is no network at DD1's school that kids are allowed to access on their own devices. There is a student area of an extranet though which is accessible on a mac or an iPad or linux. If DD1 wishes to print at school she emails herself on her school email address and prints from the IT room, she can also email teachers and they will print for her if necessary.

Allowing students or staff to connect to an internal network with their own devices would be a huge hmm from those tasked with security responsibility - at least, it should be. I've seen many an organisation where it happens all the time though!

Takver Thu 12-Sep-13 14:29:38

"If folk don't download executable crap they won't get viruses "

True, but try persuading a slightly grumpy 80 year old with poor vision to be more cautious . . . (DF, not dd, obviously!)

I think maybe the best option might be to hang on for a bit & see what school work involves. With 2 laptops between the 3 of us it really should be fine, maybe getting dd to use dropbox or icloud habitually so we don't get the 'but where's my memory stick' wail.

Sadly our cast off macs aren't really useful - our 'new' computer is about 7 years old, and we tend to update only when they really stop being functional.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 14:31:31

"Allowing students or staff to connect to an internal network with their own devices would be a huge from those tasked with security responsibility"

Terribly fashionable now, although it requires a very different security model. After all, it's absolutely universal, and has been since forever, at universities, with absolutely now control over student devices whatsoever. See BYOD.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 12-Sep-13 14:45:37

Friday I do actually know what I'm talking about grin. Many companies and organisations operate what appears to be BOYD but is actually wifi or even wired extranet access. Apart from anything else, it gets over problems such as 'our network doesn't work with macs'.

Of course there are plenty of companies and organisations that operate in a shoddy manner. The fact that they do this doesn't make it any the less shoddy. I'm in my third city location today, and in each of them I've had no problem connecting via wifi to various 'networks' - they have all been extranets though.

Takver Sun 15-Sep-13 17:59:53

Many thanks for advice, all. After a bit of thinking, the mac mini seems the way to go, we have a computer screen in the sitting room & it can be a family computer that dd uses to get round the vanishing-to-bedroom thing smile

Looks like we should be able to get something for under £250 on ebay that will run a newer version of the OS than our macs, which is a bonus as there's the odd website (yes looking at you, HMRC) that doesn't work on them.

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