Expert view

Kieran Alger

Kieran Alger is the editor of gadget website T3.com. He previously headed up the digital team for men’s magazine, ZOO, and also spent six years at AOL UK.

www.t3.com

Top tech for teens 

Technology can be entertaining and empowering for teenagers but you might find it baffling working out which gadgets are right for them. How much should you spend? Is it safe? Will it pass the school yard cool test? T3.com editor Kieran Alger gives you the lowdown on five tech gadgets for teenagers – from a photo-sharing app to an exercise-tracking wristband.


iPhone 4S


Apple’s smartphone boasts a super-sharp Retina screen for watching video, fast dual-core processor for great game play and up to 64GB storage for all those photos and tunes. Chuck in access to 1,000s of great games and apps on the App Store, loads of new features like improved sat nav from the imminent iOS 6 software update and lashings of cool and it’s the must-have handset for many teens. Just make sure you buy a protective case... that screen shatters easily.


Tip:
You can use Apple’s Parental Controls (called Restrictions) to limit access to things like YouTube, Web browsing and even the App Store.


Sony PlayStation Vita


A tiny TV touch screen tablet and fully-stocked handheld games console rolled into one, the Vita has the tools to satisfy staunch gamers and casual fun seekers in equal measure. For part-time button pushers, there are motion sensors aplenty enabling iPad-style gameplay, pocket money games and even episodes of Glee to download from the Sony Entertainment Network. Meanwhile, hardcore gamers can waggle the excellent built-in analogue sticks at top titles like EA FIFA Soccer and enjoy crystal clear graphics on the eyeball pleasing super-sharp OLED screen.


Tip:
Keep younger children safe by blocking access to the Web browser or adding age limits to prevent access to games that might not be appropriate.


Instagram


Bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, Instagram is powering the latest photo-sharing social craze. The app makes it super easy to snap and share photos on your smartphone with the option to add effects from a range of pre-loaded styles, like 1970s. The stylised shots can then be uploaded with a single click to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. A handy in-app feed also lets you see what your friends have been shooting.


Tip:
Use the app to block unwanted followers or report users who post inappropriately. Set up your own account and follow your kids to keep tabs on what they’re posting.


Philips GoGear Connect 3


The best iPod Touch rival out there, the lightweight, touch screen GoGear Connect 3 runs Android, perfect for anyone who has spent time with a Droid smartphone. Hook it up over Wi-Fi and you get access to a range of brilliant apps on the Google Play store – from movies and games to Facebook and iPlayer – turning this into a portable time-killer, not just a music player. The bundled headphones also beat those white ones you get with the iPod.


Tip:
Link the Google Play app store account to your Google account – that way you can keep an eye on apps that are being added (and paid for).


Nike+ FuelBand


It might look like a charity wristband but the FuelBand is much smarter. Strap this on and it will track your activity, including how many steps you’ve taken, calories burned that day and Fuel Points (think ‘activity points’) you’ve earned. Hook it up with the partner iPhone app or the Nike+ website and you can set ‘Fuel Points’ goals and track how you’re doing against your daily targets. It’s the ultimate way to inspire your offspring to stop watching YouTube and get moving.


Tip:
Get yourself one and challenge your kids to see if they can clock up more points than you. Just make sure they don’t cheat by strapping it to the family pets!