Can my child manage his own music collection?
March 26, 2011 6:19 AM   Subscribe

What's the best technology for a little kid listening to music? My five-year-old loves music. We only have song on iTunes and iPods. He can't read the song titles, and it's too easy for him to mess things up. I'm wishing for a stack of records ("like we had when I was a kid") that he could manage himself. Any advice on creating a self-operable music listening system for kids in this age of digital music? Thanks!
posted by largecorp to Technology (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
CD boombox and a stack of CDs?
posted by bricoleur at 6:22 AM on March 26, 2011

Is there a reason why you are not going with a stack of records? Many bands still release on vinyl, often with a free copy of the CD or download if you wanted a digital copy as well.
posted by phil at 6:29 AM on March 26, 2011

Burn copies of CDs. They're pennies, and you don't have to worry about them getting scratched.
posted by Leon at 6:37 AM on March 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I'd second or third burninng a cd. You can get cheap colorable label paper from a staples type store so your child can custom label his or her own mix cd. Then get a cheap top loading CD player for them from a thrift store, or drop a little coin and get a fisher price one and you are good to go.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2011

I like the idea of burned cds too - we did that for a while, with a personal cd player that could play mp3's on cd. The cd player ended up getting dropped too many times, and it wasn't cheap to replace. Eventually I got him a sansa shaker. You put the songs on it via an SD card - simple drag and drop. There's a little speaker on the player itself, plus a headphone jack. there are simple controls on it -just twisting the a ring at the top or bottom to go to the previous or next song, or to increase/decrease volume. And if you give it a shake, it'll switch to a random song. There's no display to show song titles, and other than beating it against the wall, there's very little he can mess up. There's a loop for a lanyard so it hangs around his neck, too. It's powered by a AAA battery, so no need to plug in to anything to charge it.
posted by lemniskate at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2011

Mediamonkey has a party/jukebox mode that would allow him to choose songs to play but nothing else. If you set this up with album art downloaded it might be enough of a visual to compensate for not being able to read (certainly requires no more reading than vinyl would).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:47 AM on March 26, 2011

Burned CDs would be easy and inexpensive to replace if needed. There are lots of boomboxes around, both new and used, and they can be used with the AC/DC adaptor. You could keep a portable one with batteries for special occasions.

But can you explain what you mean by "we only have one song on iTunes and iPods"? Has he actually played with an old iPod for a while? They're actually not that expensive on eBay, and I know dozens of kids that age who adore their ipods and treat them with lots of care and respect. If you get a older iPod touch, the apps for kids that age are awesome!

Or if that's too much, a little nano - either the older generation or the new ones - could be a good solution.
posted by barnone at 6:56 AM on March 26, 2011

iPAD has many music apps and players that work well for kids.
posted by zeikka at 7:09 AM on March 26, 2011

How much managing do you want him to do? Is an iPod shuffle out of the question?
posted by asciident at 7:09 AM on March 26, 2011

Burn CD's, and then spend some time letting the kids "label" the CD's themselves. Even though they may not be able to read and write much, they will be able to draw on the CD's and identify which one is which. This has the added bonus of also turning it into an art project.
posted by markblasco at 8:04 AM on March 26, 2011

How much managing do you want him to do? Is an iPod shuffle out of the question?

My first thought was an iPod shuffle also. If he can't read the titles, I'm guessing that he listens on shuffle already, so having that as the only choice wouldn't matter. You could clip it some string and he could wear it around his neck, if you don't want to clip it to his clothes.
posted by booksherpa at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2011

Nthing CDs. My four-year-old has had a CD boombox in her room and a stack of burned CD for a long time. When one gets scratched beyond playing, we burn another. She's handled that system reasonably well since before she was three. A cheap $20 CD player and one stack of CDs has lasted us a long, long time.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:15 PM on March 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. I hadn't really thought of making my own CDs.

I have such fond memories of sitting with records, and looking at the covers. I think letting the boy customize his own labels would add a lot to the process!
posted by largecorp at 1:55 PM on March 26, 2011

My 3 yr old got this mp3 player for Christmas. While he can't yet read the song titles, he has quickly learned the order of the songs and happily flips through the songs to get to what he wants. My favorite part about this particular player is that it has an SD slot so the memory is expandable.

By the time he's five he'll probably have his own iPod. They really are pretty simple for kids to operate. He already gets around on a Touch really well; I just don't trust him with something of that value all the time!
posted by wallaby at 6:29 PM on March 26, 2011

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