Five Must-Have Gadgets For The Holidays

By Mike Wheeler

Once again school holidays are upon us and it’s time to entertain the kids and keep them occupied before the start of the last term of the year. With that in mind, we thought we’d put together a few ‘must-have’ gadgets that will be needed during the break. Whether they’re inside or out, kids need to be kept occupied or else they will drive their parents up the wall!

Gaming Console
Although September is springtime, and the weather should start be mild, there is the odd chance of there being a couple of days where kids will have to spend some time indoors. What better way to keep the rugrats entertained with a gaming console? Whether it be an Xbox, Wii, PS3, DS or even PC, there are a huge number of games out there to keep them occupied for hours. And if you are worried about gaming leading to the slippery slope of a more sedentary lifestyle, be aware that the Wii and the new gaming ‘controllers’ for the Xbox and PS3 – the Kinect and Move respectively – have been designed to get gamers up off the couch.

Mobile Phone
When I was growing up in the 80s, it was a time when you would head off for the day with a couple of mates to the beach or into the city and you’d only see your folks first thing in the morning and be home in time for dinner. My how things have changed. While some see the Internet and mobile phones as offering freedom, they are also a way of parents to keep tabs on their tweens/teens. Almost any child over the age of 12 has a mobile phone, which offers up a great way for kids to not only keep in contact with mum and dad, and get hold of friends in real time, but also they come with a range of applications that can offer up a myriad of ways to entertain.

While not necessarily a gadget per se, social networking has certainly taken off so much over the past two years that it has changed the way we communicate. Some find it a boon others a burden, but its effect on the cultural landscape is here to stay. Kids no longer have the excuse of staying on the phone for hours at a time, nor not getting in contact with family and friends. Like the mobile phone, Facebook and MySpace in particular, also have several other features that can keep users amused.

Tonnes of families take the opportunity to go on holiday with the kids during the break. Australia is a huge country with more activities that you could probably fit in one lifetime, so getting out and about and finding something to do should not be a problem. However, if you want to save time and not get lost, I advise getting some sort of GPS. TomTom, Navman and Garmin are just a few vendors who put out SatNav devices, which these days are pretty comprehensive. Not only do they give you a destination, but they’ll tell you where the delays are occurring, where speed cameras are hidden and will show you alternative routes if you are stuck in traffic or want to drive at a leisurely pace. There are also a few smartphones that have GPS apps like TomTom does for the iPhone. There is even the Asus-Garmin A50, which can be used a standalone GPS or smartphone.

Portable DVD Player
Speaking of going on holiday, and if you are like me and have two young(ish) kids, you can avoid a terminal case of the “are we there yet’s” by investing in a portable DVD player. There are a quite a few available that would if the bill nicely. Most fit on the back of the two front seats of a motor vehicle. You can keep the kids amused on those long drives along the coast to your destination. Portable DVD players are surprisingly affordable, have technology under the hood that stops the DVD from skipping if you hit a rut in the road, and can be run off the car’s cigarette lighter if the battery runs out (which it inevitably will do on occasion). Some even come with the ability to play games, too, although if you have the odd kid (like I do) who is susceptible to getting car sick, then it might not be the ideal solution.