kids

ROAD TEST: What happened when my 10 year old got her very own laptop.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go
Thanks to our brand partner, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go

I thought I might get a little longer. Perhaps, maybe, one more year when my computer was indeed my computer. To work on and watch on and message on, when I needed to, and not when I could prise it out of one of my children's hands.

What a crazy dream that turned out to be.

Adults might have been working from home more than ever before this year, turning corners of lounge rooms, bedrooms, laundries and sunrooms into makeshift mini-offices. Lugging big screens home under their arms and strengthening their modem connections and fretting about how their necks and shoulders are going to get through all this typing from the lounge. 

Yes, adults might have been doing all that, but don't be fooled that the children of the house think that all that technology isn't theirs.

"Can I just search up..." my daughter will ask over breakfast, and end that request with answers as varied as "What grass is made of" to "Whether dogs can eat carrots" or "Does Guy Sebastian gives private singing lessons?".

Or she'll insist she needs to listen to music that brightens up her day, and the family computer's Spotify is the only one where she can see her playlist.

Or she'll go for a straight-up educational land grab: "Mum, I have a school project and I need to finish the slides on your computer."

Hard to argue with that. Even though she's 10. And when I was 10, my homework didn't involve anything sophisticated enough that adults needed a password to make it work.

Search away. But get outside, too.  Image: Supplied.

In 2020, many families realised they didn't quite have enough screens for everyone if they were all going to be doing everything from home, all the time. So, we did our best, we tag-teamed, we dusted off old technologies. We made do.

But as it became increasingly obvious that if I ever wanted to get my work done, I would have to either a) Buy myself a mum-sized lockable cage or b) Face the fact my daughter needs a computer.

ADVERTISEMENT

A laptop, it turns out. Because she needs to take it to and from school, and over to friends' houses to work on joint projects, and to whichever corner of the house is quietest at any given time.

Something strong but light. Something easy to use for someone with a basic level of computer literacy, but capable of growing with my daughter as her needs get more sophisticated. Every damn day.

Oh, and it had to look good. Because of course it does.

Microsoft's Surface Laptop Go ticks all those boxes, right out of the gate (or, erm, box). It's very sleek, very light, beautifully designed and with enough grunt to run all the apps you (or a 10 year old) can dream of, because it has a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, and I don't know what that means but I'll take it because the Surface Laptop Go is fast as all get out.

OK, Mum, you done taking photos? Image: Supplied.

 It also has a long-life, all-day battery when charged (13 hours), which is excellent news because my daughter will certainly forget to plug it in... constantly. And it's touch-screen - which is perfect for a generation who've been swiping since toddlerhood.

And finally, the price. It starts from $999, which is cheaper than many other laptops out there including the popular Macbook Air that I know parents across Australia are being nagged for as it’s the “it” laptop (ah, the expenses of being a parent in 2020).

Of course, with such a cool-looking new gadget, my main concerns were that my daughter would either break it or simply spend all day staring at herself in it, deciding how cool she looked with a gun-metal silver lappy of her own.

I was anxiously preparing "The Talk" I'd have to have with her; about responsibility, about security (of course I made sure her Microsoft profile had all the appropriate age-restrictions and filters, I'm not daft) and about using her laptop for good, not silly.

ADVERTISEMENT

But with this road test, none of that was necessary. As soon as she logged on, it's as if my daughter understood that this, unlike the screens she'd been playing on since she was a pre-schooler, was a grown-up, mature piece of tech. And she wanted to use it differently.

She's been building school projects on the Surface Laptop Go in such numbers she's run out of homework. She asked both her teacher and us, her parents, if she could very carefully take it to school and be project leader for the class's "Gold Rush" presentation. And yes, she's been watching 'craft goes horribly wrong' videos on YouTube. She is still 10, after all.

Sneak peek at her presentation (shhh). Image: Supplied.

Of course, if M was allowed socials (she's not), unfettered Internet access (she's not) and all the passwords to all the streaming services (she's definitely not), she could use all that, too, but I do need her to leave the lounge sometimes.

But today, as I sit on the couch finishing off this story, and my girl sits next to me in imitation, her super-light laptop on her knee, hair tucked behind her ears, face deep in concentration, building her slideshow about staffy puppies, I wonder at my anxiety around my girl having a computer of her own.

Rather than seeing it as a disposable bit of tech (like, say, she sees... my computer, eek), she inherently knows that this spiffy little laptop, is a privilege.

And that it's so easy to use and carry around in her backpack, she's going to need a lot of puppy pictures to fill all these pages.

Microsoft's Surface Laptop Go is available now.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go
The new Surface Laptop Go can be purchased via the Microsoft Store and other major retailers nationally. Microsoft continues to expand its line-up of Surface devices and accessories to make it easier to find the Surface that’s right for you. 
00:00 / ???