Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

WiFi HiFi Holiday Gift Guide 2023: Gifts for Kids

The holiday season really is all about the kids. If you’re looking for a gift for a child or two (or 10!) on your list this year, these tech gifts are ones they’ll love to see and unwrap under the tree.

Amazon Echo Show 5 Kids

Echo Show 5 Kids

Selling for $129, the Echo Show 5 Kids is a smart speaker for young ones with a funky colour scheme that kids will love: Amazon aptly calls it Galaxy. It offers kid-friendly responses and jokes when they ask queries via Alexa, as well as explicit lyric filtering. The screen can be personalized using colourful, kid-friendly clock themes. It’s perfect for the nightstand as an alarm to ensure they don’t miss the bus for school and they can use it to play music in the background while they get their homework done. Kids can also make video calls to parent-approved contacts; play with interactive skills; and ask Alexa to read a bedtime story. Parents and guardians have transparency and control over their kids’ experiences, with access to a free suite of parental controls through the Parent Dashboard, where they can adjust age settings, review activity, and set bedtime limits. It comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee and includes one year of Amazon Kids+, a kid-focused subscription with thousands of hours of ad-free and age-appropriate audiobooks, videos, games, and Alexa skills. If you’re worried about privacy, there’s a mic on/off button and the ability to view and delete voice recordings if and when desired.

Onanoff BuddyPhones PlayEars+ Wireless Headphones

Onanoff PlayEars+

Get them a good pair of headphones that will fit their small head and will be perfect for school computer time, travel, and private listening at home. The BuddyPhones PlayEars+ deliver the same sound quality and SafeAudio features as other Onanoff kids headphones but now with the addition of animal ears. Kids can cosplay as a pink cat, grey dog, brown fox, or white polar bear with the durable and flexible silicon ears. Each box includes four embossed animal themed stickers as well. There are three SafeAudio settings to choose from: the 94dB TravelMode, 85dB KidsMode, and 75dB ToddlerMode so they can be tailored to the child’s needs and environment. The patented StudyMode helps isolate voices from other sounds, producing crisper, clearer vocals that makes for an improved listening experience. To protect little ones’ ears, a built-in, always on, sound control circuit caps volume at levels recommended for children by the World Health Organization. The headphones offer up to 24 hours of battery life and come with a cord that can be used when the battery is running low. They also have an adjustable head band to fit kids with different sized heads and of different ages. They also include a detachable boom mic and feature soft protein PU leather ear pads. With BuddyLink, siblings and friends can listen together with one device. When they aren’t being used, they fold up into a soft travel bag. Built to be durable, the BuddyPhones PlayEars+ have undergone extensive testing and come with a two-year limited warranty. Get a pair for US$60.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 Instant Camera

Instax Mini 12

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 instant camera, a follow-up to the Mini 11 launched in 2020, adds new features including parallax correction, automatic flash control, and a multi-function twist lens. They include Close-Up Mode and Auto Exposure adjustment capabilities, and add a Parallax Correction feature, in which the camera’s viewfinder aligns with the lens when using Close-Up Mode, minimizing object shifts, to produce a centred photo. Mini 12 also features automatic flash control, which optimizes image quality in bright or low light situations. The lens structure is designed to provide intuitive steps both for powering the camera on/off and for accessing the popular Close-Up Mode with a twist of the lens. Use the Instax Up! smartphone app, which can be used for digitally scanning, importing from other Instax apps, organizing, and storing photos. The free app works with any type of Instax film, camera, or printer. Get it in Blossom Pink, Mint Green, Clay White, Lilac Purple, and Pastel Blue for $100.

Huffy CR8-R 36-Volt E-Mini Bike

Huffy CR8 eBike

Imagine being a 14-year-old and zooming down the street on this E-Mini bike? At $700, it’s a pretty cool bike that will make them the envy of all their friends. It comes with a 36V charger and battery and an easy push-button start method and twist-grip to accelerate. With working suspension, racing inspired graphics, and the ability to go up to 19 mph (meeting the limitation in most residential areas in Canada), the two-wheel design affords a stable ride. Complete with 14-inch tires, it can accommodate a child or adult aged 14 and older up to 130 lbs.

Acer Chromebook Plus Laptop

Acer Chromebook Plus 515

Perfect for kids who need a Chromebook for school, the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is a great upgrade. As with other new Chromebook Plus models, it features AI-powered Google and Adobe features along with ultra-fast speeds, ample memory, and lots of storage. The Chromebook has a 15.6-inch Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080) and powerful 13th Gen and 12th Gen Intel Core processors with hybrid technology. With up to 10 hours of battery life per charge, it will last the full school day. Choose from 8 GB to 16 GB of LPDDR5X RAM, combined with responsive SSD local storage options of up to 512 GB for the 15-inch version. Enjoy fast and reliable Wi-Fi 6E as well as Bluetooth 5.1 and an array of ports for charging, data transfer and display extension including dual USB Type-C ports and HDMI. For kids with slippery fingers, parents need not worry since it meets MIL-STD 810H durability standards and has an OceanGlass touchpad and option for a backlit keyboard. There’s also a 1080p webcam with Temporal Noise Reduction, high-resolution IPS displays, and built-in AI-powered tools for virtual classes. A physical webcam shutter is added and can be closed to protect privacy during meetings, classes, and conferences while users can also mute the mic and turn off the camera with one click for added convenience. It starts at just $550.

Planet Buddies Olive the Owl Bluetooth Speaker

Planet Buddies Owl Speaker

A Bluetooth speaker designed just for kids? Yes, please. They’ll love having their own adorable friend on their desk to play music. The Olive the Owl Bluetooth speaker can play for up to four hours at a time with a 60-day standby time and connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth 5.0 compatible device, offering full-range sound with 3W output. Kids can also use it as a Bluetooth speakerphone thanks to the built-in mic. With multi-speaker pairing, this cutey can even connect to a second Planet Buddies speaker for a fuller surround sound experience. At about $40, it’s not only affordable but also made from 50% recycled plastic and comes with 100% recyclable packaging without plastics.

Plugo STEM Wiz Pack

Plugo Stem Wiz Pack

There’s a push to get more kids into STEM fields, and as they say, start ‘em young! The Plugo STEM Wiz Pack is perfect for 4-10-year-olds. It includes the gamepad and 48 letter tiles with a letters trunk for storing them, count sets with a count spike, and 15 magnetic building blocks for learning all the basics. How does it work? The system connects with an app on an iPhone, iPad, Android device, or Amazon Fire device (see list of compatible models) then combined both screen time with physical game pieces. Kids play story-based games to learn how to spell, grow their vocabulary, learn to count, add, and subtract, build and balance with magnetic blocks, and enjoy hands-on play. The full set is $150.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Another Chromebook option for kids is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 ($500), which can be used as both a computer and a tablet thanks to the detachable keyboard and touchscreen. It has a smaller 11-inch 2K touchscreen, ideal for younger kids who don’t need the biggest and brightest screen, and it’s ultra-lightweight at just 1.14 lbs. It can last all day with a single battery charge and comes equipped with a USB-C port and Bluetooth 5.1. There’s even a stylus pen included for sketching, taking notes, or working out math problems. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and loaded with the Chrome OS, this is a versatile option for kids of all ages.

Cell Phone Plan

Aly and Patrick on a phone listening to music

What age should a child get a cell phone? If you’re tween or teen is like mine and asking for a mobile phone plan (or a smartphone, in general) it might be time to start shopping around. You’ll have to investigate with the various carriers and look into everything from subsidized plans when you buy a new device as well to family sharing plans if those options exist, or standalone or pay-as-you-go plans to use with an existing phone, likely an old one you handed down to them. Sadly, Ryan Reynolds’ Mint Mobile isn’t in Canada yet, but there are moderately affordable options to consider. Rogers might not be the most affordable, but the carrier does have parent-friendly plans starting at $25/mo. that include some useful features. This includes features like Spam Call Detect, $0 down financing for new phones, 5G coverage, and, arguably most important, protection from data overages. They get 500MB data at speeds up to 250Mbps which is throttled to a minimum of 128Kbps after, so they’ll have to use their data wisely each month. You need to provide proof of age of the child, who must be under the age of 18 and the plan is only available in stores and for new activations.

PlayShifu Tacto Chess

PlayShifu Tacto chess

Your child might be reluctant to learn how to play the game of chess, getting easily frustrated with all the rules. This set aims to make the game a bit more fun, engaging to look at, and educational. Kids can play against an AI to learn predictions for the next move to help refine their game. There are more than 100 mini puzzles and kids can learn about all types of strategies. As they practice and get better, they’ll be ready to challenge you to a game. It works with various iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire tablets. All you need to do is fit the two anti-slip frames on the sides, download the Tacto app, and select chess mode. It comes with real figurines to combine both virtual and physical play. At just $60, this is a gift parents might love playing to help refresh their own skills, too.

Tamagotchi Uni (Designed with Charli D’Amelio)

Tamagotchi Uni

If there’s a pre-teen or teenage girl on your list, chances are she worships TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. Combine this love of social media with nostalgic tech from the ’90s and you have the perfect gift. The Tamagotchi Uni is a new design on the classic old virtual pet toy, and this one was designed in partnership with D’Amelio. They can use it to connect to the Tamaverse, the new Tamagotchi metaverse, and play together in the Tama Arena, attend Tama Parties, enjoy Tama Fashion, Tama Travel, and more. It also has new DIY activities and a new in-device social platform. There are also more unique virtual pet options, each of which has their own look, personality, and even hobbies. Connect it to Wi-Fi to download more content and updates as well. It comes in pink, purple, or blue for US$60.