June is around the corner, which means your tween might soon be successfully completing another grade in school. Some people rightly take this as an opportunity to reward their hardworking scholar with a fun present.
But while the old adage about it being “better to give than to receive” is true, there is an exception: It can be pretty agonizing to find a gift that a “tween” will actually admit is cool.
So here’s a little help: a quick list of fun, way-cool high-tech accessories that your 11-to-14-year-old will like. For one brief, shining moment, they might even think you’re, well, y’know, kind of OK. The moment won’t last long, so enjoy!
Speedo AquaBeat If your favorite student is a water hound, they probably can’t wait to hop in the lake or the pool this spring. But until recently, they weren’t able to take their music with them. Speedo, famous for its swimsuits, has created a waterproof MP3 player that holds up to 500 songs and comes with waterproof earphones, extra earbuds and even a carrying bag. The music can be taken down to 10 feet below the water’s surface and, if dropped, will float in water. It plays music for up to nine hours on a full charge. $144.99; speedousa.com
Cygnett GrooveToons Apple owns over 80 percent of the portable MP3 player market, which means it’s very likely your nephew, niece or grandchild has one. One of the best accessories I’ve seen for the iPod is the GrooveToon, a cool-looking alarm clock that works with the first three generations of iPod. It even doubles as a speaker system, and, since it’s very compact, will fit on a desk or a bedside table and do double duty as a personal stereo. The best part: Your kidlet can wake up to their favorite tunes instead of the insistent beeping produced by most alarm clocks. It even charges your iPod while you sleep. $49.99; cygnett.com
Hercules Mobile DJ MP3 For kids who consider themselves music aficionados, you’ll probably shock them with your latent coolness by giving them a Hercules Mobile DJ MP3. Basically, what it does is allow them to be their own disc jockey and mix together music playlists that they can play at sleepovers or parties and prove their coolness to their friends. Lots of effects buttons, made possible by much cheaper processing technology, lets them “scratch” and cross-fade and even synchronize different tracks. It’s powered by two C batteries and — here’s the kicker — it even works wirelessly with your PC. $99; hercules.com
FlashFlight SpokeLit Some of us still remember the days when it was cool to attach playing cards to our bicycle wheels with a clothespin, making the card chatter out a “rat-a-tat” as the bike picked up speed. Here’s something that’s frankly a lot cooler … and safer, too. FlashFlight, which has been making safety lights for Halloween for years, now makes the SpokeLit, a spoke-mounted, water-resistant LED light that installs in seconds on any bike spokes and makes the bike rider much more visible at night. This fun, easy-to-use add-on glows or flashes a spooky green light(just press a button to choose), lasts for hundreds of hours. $9.95; niteize.com
Paul Hochman is the gear and technology editor for the TODAY Show and a Fast Company magazine contributor. He covered the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Athens and Torino, Italy, for TODAY. He was also a three-year letter winner on the Dartmouth ski team and has a black belt in karate. Paul’s blog can be found at: