Ahh, those elusive Gen-Zers - the Snapchatting, crop-top/mom jean-wearing, Insta-ing group of kids who make up a large portion of our gift recipients. What do you get for your 13-year-old niece? Sixteen-year-old grandson? Here are some great tech ideas.
If the teen/tween has been really good this year, grab him a Nintendo Switch system, which allows for multiplayer games on the TV at home, as well as on the go. He can take it to his friend's house and play there, then resume when he gets home. Popular titles include Super Mario Odyssey, and, for older kids, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with lots of new titles coming in 2018. Each console comes with two Joy-Con controllers so owners can enjoy multiplayer games with friends and family right out of the box. About $400
Sure, no one likes to give gift cards except for those extreme procrastinators who pop into the local gas station to grab a couple at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. But the truth is, many of us, especially teens and tweens, actually love to receive them, as impersonal as they are. For kids who likely don't have part-time jobs yet, getting a few bucks that they can go spend on exactly what they want is empowering. There are a number of ones you can choose from, but a few obvious options include Amazon, iTunes, and Cineplex.
Pioneer SE-S3M Ironman Sports Earphones
A pair of $30 earphones from a reputable brand? You can't go wrong for the teen/tween looking for a good pair they can wear during recess, commutes to/from school, or while chilling in their rooms with good tunes. The Pioneer SE-S3M Ironman Sports Earphones are ultra lightweight, and feature full-range, 10mm dynamic drivers, gold-plated 3.5mm stereo mini-plug, and three sized ear tips for the perfect fit. The hooks are designed of flexible material that conforms to your ear to prevent chafing, and the unit is sweat and water-resistant, making them ideal for even rigorous physical activities as well. Plus, they come in fun colour options like aqua, red, black, blue/black, and white.
House of Marley Uplift 2 Wireless Headphones
For the socially-conscious teen/tween, these in-ear headphones are made using sustainable materials, including FSC-certified wood and a blend of plant-based bioplastic (PLA) and recyclable aluminum for sturdy, yet lightweight portability. They are sweat-resistant with an IPX4 rating. Connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth, the lightweight battery housing rests comfortably behind the neck and provides 10 hours of listening time per charge. An adjustable, choke-free magnetic clasp provides strain-free stability. There's a built-in microphone and three-button controls, and an angled, ergonomic port with a tangle-free braided cable. They come with three sets of ear gels and a recycled PT stash bag. As part of the company's partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to reforestation efforts, House of Marley will contribute to planting 75,000 trees worldwide for every product sold. The goal with the partnership is to spread awareness of global forest restoration. $99
GoTrax Youth Helmet
For active kids, consider the GoTrax youth Helmet that is designed to be used with its Hoverfly hoverboards and electric rideables. The helmet is suitable for multi-sport protection, and is fully CPSC-compliant for bicycle use and ASTM F1492-15 compliant for skateboarding and trick skating. Designed in Denver, it features high-grade lightweight in-mold construction, an EPS liner that is engineered to dissipate impacts, and comes wrapped in a durable polycarbonate outer shell. Details include 11 vents for continuous cooling airflow and comfortable sweat-absorbing padding. Also included is deep rear coverage that maximizes protection, adjustable straps, and an Autodial feature. Debuting in Nebula Black, Pulsar Pink and Moonlight White, it retails for US$35, but is on sale now for introductory holiday pricing of US$25. It comes in youth sizes small, medium, and large.
Catalyst AirPods Case
If the teen/tween was lucky enough to receive a pair of Apple AirPods from Santa, a great gift is this silicone case that will ensure they don't lose them. It offers waterproof and drop-protection, not to mention a neat and tidy place to keep the buds safe when you're not wearing them. The carabiner clip can be used to secure the buds to a belt loop or backpack. $40
Chic Buds Crossbody Power Charging Purse
For the fashionable teen/tween, the Chic Buds Crossbody Power Charging Purse has a battery hidden in an inside pocket to secretly keep USB-based mobile devices fuelled up at all times. There's even a cord built in, alongside the 3,000mAh battery. The purse itself is made from soft vegan leather material, and comes in a number of different colours to suit different styles and personalities. US$70
Belkin USB-C 3.1 Express Dock HD
Ideal for the student, this dock can be used to charge up to eight devices at once with a single one-meter cable. It offers 4K HDMI video output, gigabit Ethernet connection, and audio in and out. Power Priority technology keeps the main device charged while sending 60W of power delivery where it's needed. Power Priority, Belkin explains, assesses each connected device's size and charging needs, then distributes power accordingly so all devices receive an optimal charge. Ports include two USB-C 3.1 ports to connect and charge new smartphones and laptops; three USB-A ports to connect and charge USB-A devices; one HDMI port to support 4K video output; one gigabit Ethernet port for reliable Internet; and two audio ports for headphone or speaker connection. If this teen/tween has a desk setup in his room for homework, this would be a welcome addition. MSRP US$230
JBL Flip 4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
What could be better than a portable Bluetooth speaker they can throw into their bag for listening to music with friends on the go? A rugged and waterproof one with a long battery life, of course! With the JBL Flip 4, kids can also use Connect technology to connect hundreds of them (or other Connect -enabled JBL speakers) to get a party started. $140 ea.
HP Sprocket Photo Printer
Perfect for kids, this printer lets you make fun, photo booth-like 2x3" stickable prints to stick onto a notebook, locker, or backpack. And it's all done wirelessly from your phone using the app. Pics can be customized with frames, emojis, or text, and you can print direct from social media accounts. Each print comes out in under a minute, and is printed on HP Zink Instant photo papers, which have ink already built in. The printer will come with a 10-sheet pack, but it's a good idea to grab a few extras as stocking stuffers so they can experiment. $220
These circular grips attach to the back of a phone or phone case, adding extra grip while taking those all-important selfies, or can be used as a stand for most phones, typically in horizontal mode. They come in a variety of styles and patterns, and can even come in handy beyond tech usage. For example, stick one on the wall and hang your necklaces or keychain toys. Or, get creative, stick two to the back of your phone, and wrap earbuds around them. At about $20 each, they're great stocking stuffer items.
Google Daydream View
Give a new Google Pixel or other Daydream-ready phone owner the opportunity for a fully immersive experience with this new virtual reality (VR) headset and controller. Pop the phone in, place it on their head, and they can start enjoying VR content, from videos to home movies and games. In addition to the Pixel phones, it also works with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8. $140
808 Audio Singsation
Ideal for teens, this five-in-one karaoke system and wireless speaker combines lights and music with voice effects. It's a karaoke microphone that contains multiple LED lights, sound, and voice mixer effects, along with a speaker that can deliver full-range audio. The microphone can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth speaker, allowing users to enjoy wireless music anywhere. The microphone works with all karaoke apps, allowing users to stream their favourite songs wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet. It has more than 14 multi-colour light modes and over 12 sound and voice effects. The device offers six hours of playtime via the built-in rechargeable battery. Get one for US$50.
Microsoft Xbox One X
Any avid gamer will be forever grateful for this console, which has an eight-core Custom AMD CPU that's clocked at 2.3GHz to bring enhanced AI, real world detail, and smoother interactions to gaming. It comes with 12GB GDDR5 of graphic memory, and a 6 Teraflop GPU that enables 4K environments and characters to become more realistic than ever, with more detail and smoother animations. Plus, you can now access the Amazon Prime Video app from this, and older Xbox gaming consoles, making it a full, entertainment hub. $600
Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet
You can't get much more affordable when it comes to tablets than the $100 Amazon Fire HD 8, which has an 8" HD display, quad-core processor, and offers up to 12 hours of battery life. With 16GB of storage, it also supports up to 256GB more. Teens/tweens can play games, watch videos, research homework, browse the web, and more from the device, which also has front and rear-facing cameras. You also get unlimited cloud storage, and fast dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity.
Magnasonic CR 64 Alarm Clock
Having trouble getting your teen/tween up for school in the mornings? Get your sleep-loving teen this cool alarm clock, which has a Time Projection feature that makes sure the time remains in convenient view. With an adjustable 180-degree swivel projection display, users can avoid having to roll over in the middle of the night to check the time as the clock projects the time on the wall or ceiling. It automatically adjusts for things like Daylight Savings Time, and has a USB charger for recharging smartphones or other USB-based mobile devices. Kids can program wake times, including times for the week and weekends, as well as separate times for different kids if they share a room. The back-up battery keeps the devices running in the event of an unexpected power failure or power loss, and automatically restores the time and alarm settings, activating the alarm at the scheduled time. In addition to an aux 3.5mm input, there's also an indoor temperature (C/F) reading, date display, digital AM/FM tuner, sleep timer, wake to radio or gradual wake buzzer and radio presets. $46.