Does everyone really have one? It’s hard to say. Most young children using digital cameras are playing with Mom’s or Dad’s, though there are new, kid-friendly (meaning less breakable) models that have hit the market in the past few years.
What age to start: Fisher Price’s Kid-Tough camera and VTech’s Kidizoom (for ages 3 and up) feature binocular-style viewfinders and color screens. “It’s a great outlet for creativity,” says Wendy Ewald, a coauthor of I Wanna Take Me a Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing to Children (Beacon, $22, amazon.com).
As they grow up: “Photography is democratic,” says Ewald. Even kids who don’t paint, draw, or dance can express themselves artistically. As your child moves on from Fisher Price, look for a simple point-and-shoot model with a macro setting to focus on close-ups, which young photographers tend to love.
Causes for concern: Most kids are going to be concentrating on flowers and silly faces, not mature material, but you should still have them download photos on the family computer, so you can see what they’re snapping.