iPad

10 reasons not to buy an iPad for your college student

If your child is trying to convince you that an iPad is essential for an effective, productive college experience, this list will help you stand your ground.

Dear parents: With summer slowly coming to a close, back-to-school shopping is in full swing. Your college-bound child is probably in the midst of asking for more and more money to buy the "essentials" for class and dorm life. And it's likely that your kid has also mentioned needing an iPad. Perhaps you're wondering whether to consider an iPad instead of a laptop for kids heading off to school.

These crafty kids think they found a perfect time to strike! They'll come at you with all sorts of "reasons" why the iPad is a "valuable tool for learning." Are you prepared to fight back? Are you armed with the knowledge you need to protect your dollars? You better be, because -- as we'll show you -- the iPad just isn't worth the money for a student.

1: It's expensive

At its most basic configuration of 16GB of storage with Wi-Fi connectivity, the iPad starts at $499. The higher-end models that include 64GB of storage and 3G connectivity will run you $829, with additional per-month rates for wireless plans. Even at the cheaper end of the spectrum, you can probably find a full-fledged laptop at around that price. It just doesn't make monetary sense to buy an iPad.

2: It's not the best solution for note-taking or editing documents

A virtual keyboard, like the one that pops up on the iPad, doesn't have any tactile feedback. That's fine for a quick text on a smartphone, but the iPad's keyboard is a bit awkward. Further, if your kid does manage to struggle through writing an entire term paper on the tablet, editing is another headache completely. Using a fingertip for fine placement of the cursor is next to impossible, and it'll take a few tries to land it in the right place. After several failed attempts, your kid will be wishing for a laptop with a real keyboard and mouse.

3: It's too distracting (games, apps, 4Gs, Web browsing, Twitter, IMs...)

The iTunes App Store boasts that it contains more than 500,000 apps -- which is tantamount to more than 500,000 distractions for your child, who's supposed to be paying attention to the teacher.

4: It's ultra-portable and ultra-droppable

Light and portable means your child will want to take it everywhere. But taking it everywhere means there's a greater chance of dropping and breaking it. In fact some kids will forget, completely, that it's in their bag and, as kids will, fling their satchel across the room -- only to be rewarded with a gut-wrenching crack, followed by a cold-sweat-inducing tinkle of broken screen glass.

5: What makes it desirable to your kid makes it desirable to criminals

Your child's desire to get an iPad is second only to the desire of a criminal to steal one. Sure, there are security locks available, just like the kind you can get for a laptop. But who -- especially among the devil-may-care college-age set -- really takes the time to a) lug that cable around and b) actually use it?

6: It's meant for the enjoyment of one person, which means social seclusion

You want your children to grow up to be personable, extroverted, well-functioning members of polite society, right? So why would you give them a personal entertainment device that all but guarantees they can spend every moment of their free time with their nose pointed at a tiny screen, drowning out the revelry, camaraderie, and general good-times that are taking place around them?

Got an hour between classes? iPad. Waiting for the shuttle to campus? iPad. Yes, kids could seclude themselves with a laptop -- but not in as many places. Let's see them try walking down the street watching the latest True Blood on a laptop! It's too cumbersome and awkward. (Just like True Blood.)

7: Digital text books are a marvel, but there's no secondary market

Your child will make the argument that an iPad can display digital textbooks and, since the device is lighter than a stack of dead-tree tomes, you'll be preventing years of backache and possibly a future addiction to painkillers / chiropractors.

After a cursory examination of eBook prices, you'll notice that they're generally cheaper than their printed counterparts. Don't be fooled! There's no secondary market for digital textbooks. That price you see for the digital version is the only price you'll get. You can't buy them used or at a discount, and you can't sell them back once the semester is over.

8: It's a status symbol, plain and simple

Like any gadget, the iPad is a status symbol. Like any Apple gadget, it's an expensive status symbol. It's something we've been trained by society and lifestyle magazines to want, simply because it's a luxury -- and if we can be the first to have it, somehow, we "win." To combat this, you can earnestly tell your kids that they don't need things to make them popular with their classmates. Then explain to them that laughing at you, when you're trying to be serious, isn't helping their cause.

Be warned, though, that this is a slightly dangerous reason to give your kids for not getting the iPad, as it all but ensures that you can't buy one for yourself. (Children are really good at pointing out hypocrisy in their elders.)

9: It'll already be old technology by the time you buy it

Apple is consistent with the release schedule of its devices. Updates come along like clockwork, and our guess is that the iPad is not going to stray from this tried-and-true model. Specifically, the new version of the tablet is surely going to come out sometime in March or April.

10: Your kid will want a laptop, too

Yes. You heard that right. If you buy an iPad thinking, "Well, that's that," think again. Since there are situations in which a tablet just doesn't cut it (see above), your kid will come to realize that a full-fledged desktop or laptop is also essential for school. (He or she will probably spring this on you the first week or two into the first semester -- you know, right when you'll be thinking the expenditures for the year are over.) Whether it's for paper-writing, Internetting, game-playing, or entertainment-centering, you're looking at a double-dose of device deployment.

If you cave...

By this point, you should have the tools to demolish your child's hopes and dreams of being the cool kid on campus. That's fine, because as we think we've made clear: The iPad is an accessory -- and an expensive one at that. It's not a productivity tool and it's certainly not a laptop replacement.

But if, after reading this list, you're still going to get your son / daughter an iPad, try to keep quiet about it. Other parents do not want to battle a kid yelling, "But [INSERT FRIEND'S NAME]'s folks got him one!"

Jeff Somogyi is media editor for dealnews.com

43 comments
dominoscr
dominoscr

Your college student does not require this device, it can only record lectures, allow them to communicate with you face to face from anywhere, give them remote access to a desktop, pair with a wireless keyboard and function as a mobile desktop, and replace a television, camera, phone, game console, and hundreds of pounds of books. Skip that purchase for sure. Great advice!

jonpilon
jonpilon

As a student who actually does use an iPad for school, I think that most of the claims made here are complete nonsense. I've written up a quick response to this article here if you care to see it from a student's point of view. http://www.conical.ca/?p=753

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

Clearly people have NO idea how much you can do on an iPad.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Buy one of those 399 laptops from bestbuy, it will do everything the iPad can do and more.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Seriously? That's going to get pretty tiring over the next four years.

mcmurphy510
mcmurphy510

I hate to say this in support of an Apple product, but I agree completely. I clicked on this article thinking it would be full of real, tangible reasons that the iPad was no good for students. Most of what the author claims is utter nonsense. He's right about 1, 2 and 10. It is pricey (but not compared to other tablets), and is a real pain to work with to do fine editing on documents or images (but then again you can just buy an external keyboard and mouse for it). And you'll probably need a computer (with iTunes) to get the most of out of it (this would be the only point he made to give me pause about buying one as / for a student). As for the rest of his points... bollux! 3. If it's too distracting, then you should have taught your child better discipline growing up. Shame on you, not Apple. Besides, chances are they are subject to the same 'distractions' via the cell phone that you bought them anyway. 4. Again. If they throw it around, or leave it somewhere, that's bad on them. Or on you. Maybe you should have taught them to take better care of their stuff. 5. Name one item that worth while to buy that isn't desirable to criminals. Cell phones, laptops (which the author apparently does advocate buying, despite this point applying to them), and virtually every other gadget a student might carry are targets for thieves. Be vigilant and get over it. 6. Is the author really serious about this one??? really??? Again, if they don't have an iPad, chances are they have a cell phone or an iPod and have their noses in that all day long anyway. And if that iPad can drown out the 'revelry, camaraderie, and general good-times' (or as college students like to call it 'drinking, debauchery, and frat-house orgies'), and keep my student focused on school, I say good. 7. Who cares if there is no secondary market? My choices are to pay top dollar and lug around 100 pounds of books every day, and possibly get some of that back when I sell my books back at the end of the year, or pay a bit less, focus on school rather than weight lifting, have my books with me every where I go... I'll choose the later. 8. Yep... it's a status symbol, just like a BMW. Also, just like a BMW it's a solid, reliable device. Point is the author is right... it may be 'trendy', but it's far from just being a trend. 9. Every bit of technology is outdated the moment you buy it... learn to live with that fact. Don't get me wrong. I'm no Apple fanboi. Far from it. In fact the only Apple product I've ever owned (and still do) is an old (pre-touch) iPod that I rooted and put rockbox on. I dislike Apple for a whole host of reasons, such as the company's totalitarian control over the device that you paid good money for, but when I see a whole list of points that are just plain wrong, I gotta come out on the other side. If it were me sending my kids to college, I'd probably go the NetBook route, but for valid reasons.

cornpie
cornpie

I know a LOT of people with iPads. I do not know anyone at all who has an iPad as his only computer. Get real. Do you really expect that you are going to tap out that entire 30 page term paper on an iPad? Sure, you COULD do it. But would you want to? Yes, you could go to the library and compete with others for use of a shared computer...but there again, do you want to? There are lots of things you could do that when push comes to shove are either not practical or just plain unpleasant if there is any other way. I'm really expecting about 99.9% of the students going to school with an iPad will also have another computer as well - probably a laptop. So from a total cost perspective, its going to be least expensive to go with a single device that can do it all, rather than multiple devices. And that leads you to the inexpensive notebooks as the best solution from a cost/benefit standpoint.

ZazieLavender
ZazieLavender

This article is junk, and your counterpoints prove it. I'm one of those Anti-Apple folk; but your counter-article puts good solid sense behind the use of an iPad for a student...and more. Sure, it can't do EVERYTHING a computer can...but you don't need the whole computer for every class usually, and I can attest to the fact that lugging a laptop around *really sucks* So more power to iPad users. I will never own any iDevice, but that doesn't mean your advice can't be equally applied to just about any tablet, be it IOS, Android or WebOS tablet. (Who knows, maybe we'll see some WinMo7/8 tablets soon if they don't already exist)

BlazingEagle
BlazingEagle

That article of yours has tablet favoritism & isn't impartial. It claims the reasons to not get an iPad are, uh, "fictional". The reasons given not to buy a student an iPad are hardly, um, "fictional". The reasons given are quite real AND valid. Please kindly come back to reality. Now, Yes laptops & netbooks, like an iPad, are fragile, but they offer more features than a iPad at around the same price. Plus, Some netbooks are convertible into a tablet like mode. Your experiences with an iPad are personal NOT definitive.

THRMN8R
THRMN8R

I agree. I have an iPad myself and I have ALL, yes all of my books on my ipad. it is ungodly the amount of money we spend on books. Thanks for your contrast there. Appreciate an apple fans enthusiasm here.

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

I love the fact that I can have my iPad up in a flash to note ideas that come to me on the fly. As mentioned before, it is a bit awkward to edit but hopefully that will improve in later iPads. It would even help immensely if there were arrow keys on the virtual keyboard.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And this response is just to explain my downvote. But your response website is mostly just pointing out the obvious and is filled with disagreements because you wanted to disagree. Its like saying "The average gamer age is 37" And you say "I'm 20 so you must be wrong"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think it would be a good follow-up article here. I'd still try to steer a student towards a more full-featured system, but you raise some good points. The original points about distractions, dropable, and a tempting target apply equally to laptops.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

what can you do that a similarly equipped laptop won't do, often for less money, and including USB and full keyboard to boot?

Fritzpk
Fritzpk

Clearly iPadders will make any excuse to not be able to do what you can do on a laptop. It's your money dude. You don't have to explain.

Fritzpk
Fritzpk

Doesn't dispute the fact that you can't sell those books. You paid full price and your done. uh...that's a bad thing not a good thing.

Fritzpk
Fritzpk

@johnb@. Typical iPadder.....rationalizing all the bad away. You got your toy. You don't have to explain, but just because you don't care about the drawbacks so you can play tilt games on a big phone, don't expect others to be as foolish as you.

PrBeacon
PrBeacon

..only if you already know everything. so then why are you even reading this? the title & content of your response seems to indicate a certain smugness. jonpilon's counterpoints are much more convincing than the article above. both make a good argument for each side, much of the decision is subjective anyway.

himself_z
himself_z

the original article was riddled with logical errors, and the response hit every one. Seriously, how can you justify a laptop computer but not an iPad with the 10 reasons in this original article? Also, the response totally nailed the distracting, multi-functioned nature of a laptop in class.

jonpilon
jonpilon

I wouldn't agree with your analogy of this article. The article doesn't say that on average these are the things, simply that these are all truths of why the iPad is bad for students. A better analogy would be "The average age of a gamer is 37. You're not 37, so you can't be a gamer". While I agree that the iPad won't be for everyone, I don't think that the reasons listed here are valid arguments and would not help in the case of telling your child why they shouldn't get an iPad.

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

There is a gigantic virtual keyboard that works very well on the iPad. I may want to get a physical keyboard for my iPad like I have attached to a couple of my laptops. Again, I prefer neither a laptops keyboard OR the virtual keyboard on any touch screen device. It appears this was always a conversation on just the price and status symbolization of tablet computing. Yes, it is expensive and research should be made by those considering a tab. And college students should work there tails off like I did to save up money for one if they feel they need a tab in addition to a laptop which can be much more reasonably priced and compatible with much of todays technology. It is a luxury and I am not boasting. I'm merely expressing how tablet computing has increased my productivity 10 fold.

Fritzpk
Fritzpk

So you have to buy a keyboard for your toy. That sounds like a great deal!! Sell me some more!

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

The floppy drive comparison was quite unfair, which reminds me I need to update my data from the old 1GB Jazz disks and 100MB Zip disks that are straggling in a box somewhere. You are also correct that USB is universal and very important. I don't believe however that I ignored any facts while I was stating factual information. I have been obnoxious though and I apologize. Its just that i have done so much with my tablet device and I do feel passionate about it's use in my journey of Surrealistic Abstract Impressionism.

bornbyforce
bornbyforce

A lot of us don't give negative votes to people who put an argument against what we think, but rather to arguments on both sides of the discussion which are based on personal feelings or ignore facts. At some point USB may be a technology of yesterday. One day it will be gone probably. But today is not that one day. USB is one of the fastest, most reliable methods of device communication and most important of all it is universal. Now comparing that to a floppy drive is a bit of an unfair comparison and deserves a little bit of a negative vote even if we do get some humour in the argument.

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

Why would a negative vote be casted upon a fact? It is a fact that there are keyboards for iPad exactly like I would plug a "real" keyboard into a laptop for keyboarding speed (feel the need to explain that it is much more efficient for me to keyboard on a large keyboard and not a flat laptop keyboard because I don't look at the keyboard when I type). And it is plausible that USB will not surpass wireless technology or any other crazy data transfer method that maybe conceived. Don't get me wrong, there are some flaws still within the range of the iPads capability (not the flaws that are outside of iPad capability eg; Flash, IE, other tools etc,...). I actually have a small list of "nice to have's" for the iPad :)

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

Edited, sry Bluetooth and docking keyboards are available for the iPad. Wireless technology replaces the need for USB on all tablet devices. What if computer tablets will even be obsolete some day? :) fun fact: If I was an astronaut and going to space I would take a tablet over a Laptop/Netbook

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm astonished textbooks are even available digitally. I'm sure that the textbook publishers have reduced their prices to reflect the reduction in manufacturing costs from going to digital, just like the music companies did when switching from vinyl and tape to CD. And the Tooth Fairy now leaves Krugerrands.

Jeff Dickey
Jeff Dickey

University bookstores are in business to make money for the publishers and for the institution; any benefit derived by the actual marks ("students") is entirely incidental to the business model. Don't believe me? Take this pop quiz: Which has had the greatest proportional increase in price since 1980, in constant dollars:a gallon of gasoline;a pound of sirloin;a kilo of uncut cocaine;the median cost of a year's worth of college textbooks and required supplements?If you have kids in college, you already know the answer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Most people keep the books related to their major, usually selling just the books from non-major courses. Classes usually change books every third or fourth year, so you won't be able to resell when they do that.

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

Correct, I shouldn't by songs/singles online either for 99 cents because I can't resell them. I want to buy "Video Killed the Radio Star" but I don't want to buy the whole album and waste the packaging but I also don't want to put people out of jobs. It is a conundrum!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

who, according to his profile, is not a student.

melek76
melek76

I am curious about your response. What drawbacks do you see the iPad to have? Other than the 10 reasons stated above.

cornpie
cornpie

The student is not the only one who has to be satisfied unless he has a job and is spending his own money on the device. If Mom and Dad are paying - they get a say too!

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

Actually, I realized the potential of tablet computers so well that I used my last $400.00 to purchase an iPad for my longtime techie friend. So technically 2 people are satisfied with my purchases :)

Blaxxeven
Blaxxeven

I did not mention a single game. I am not typical by any means of the word. It's just that I have seen the potential of A BIG PHONE THAT IS ACTUALLY A COMPUTER ANYWAY and the CLOUD. I would just like to add that this is not a toy (some of the time, er.. most of the time). I did extensive research for months before deciding what data handling solution was best for me. Call me an iPadder but it's more correct to call me an iPioneer. Just sayin

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I agree with most of the original article, but the points are generalizations. The only person who has to be satisfied with johnb's purchase is ... johnb. Not me, not you.

mcmurphy510
mcmurphy510

As long as you are treated like a dependent, you are. A lot of college age kids have been coddled and spoiled (I'll go out on a limb and say more so than ever before). It's true that by the time they get to college age they should have some level of responsibility for themselves. But, up until that point, it's the parents responsibility to prepare them for that, and a lot of parents haven't. With government programs foisted upon us whether we like it or not (Obamacare anyone?), it becomes more and more difficult to take that responsibility. Parents are just as responsible for setting the expectations that a student's college expenses will be covered; we need to stop coddling our kids and prepare them for the real world. (And we need to reject it when the government does the same). My plan for my kids is they'll get 10k a piece for college (It'll probably pay for about a 1/4 of their college tuition), and they'll be responsible for everything else. Which is far more than the beat up old clunker I got when I sent off to college; I was expected to pay for everything except for my ride. They want an iPad, great. A laptop, cool with me. Make your choice, it's your money. Of course if they don't want to go to college, the 10k will be theirs to do with as they please, I just hope that I've taught them well enough by that time to make good decisions. It sorta goes both ways.

mcmurphy510
mcmurphy510

That the argument (that money is short) may be valid, does not itself validate other arguments which, by themselves, are not valid. Money being short does happen to be a good reason not to buy an iPad. It also happens to be a good reason not to buy a laptop (I got through school find without one). But money being short does not make any other argument posed there any more valid. They stand on their own, or they do not.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

"Responsible" adult? Just as soon as you start taking responsibility for yourself and stop expecting mommy and daddy to foot the bill for everything. As long as you keep acting like a "dependent", you are. That means "someone else" will decide what you do or do not need. Whether that's mom and dad, or a government social benefits program, you give up your freedom when you expect someone else to support you. cornpie said it perfectly: "The best solution? Get a job and buy whatever you would like with your own money. Then you will not have anyone to please but yourself." That's called freedom.

cornpie
cornpie

The article is NOT talking about why an iPad is bad for students. It is talking about why it is a bad purchase for parents - i.e. the people who will most likely be shelling out the money. The best solution? Get a job and buy whatever you would like with your own money. Then you will not have anyone to please but yourself. When its Mom and Dad's money, they get a say in this.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Let me say that again, ESPECIALLY IF MONEY IS SHORT. A 400 dollar laptop can do everything the iPad can do and more, why on earth would anyone waste money on an iPad?

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