I walk about with my camera all the time, it's my third eye. I sometimes think my own eyes see things through a square. For me, it's a way of seeing the little things that are beautiful or moving, seeing the small picture helps me to see the big one. When i've had a day of being moaned at ("NOT THOSE FISHFINGERS! The OTHER ONES!" "Oh, you mean the fish cakes." "I just cut a little bit of hair off!" Daughter sobbing, holding clump, says otherwise, you know the drill), and it's hard to see the wood for the screaming, I like to take a minute and look through a lens. So son and daughter are used to being snapped (although, if I get his "photo face" one more time I will scream), and son kept agitating for a camera. I looked at those big kiddy style ones that add cartoons and so on, but frankly, the picture quality is beyond dreadful. And why should kids have a "kid" version of everything? It's like saying "you are small and wouldn't be able to use a real one", when in fact, they can. Why should something have to be big and unbreakable, and have "fun" elements? Kids, given half the chance, will look after things that are delicate with care 95% of the time, and the other 5% of the time, they're just doing it on purpose. Why should a kid need "amusing" elements to a camera, when a camera is already fun enough, if the person looking through the lens is fun?
As I proved by digging out my old digital camera, an old kodak Easyshare model. It's small enough for his hands, it's a point and click, and away we went.He was careful, carrying it with the wrist strap. He took to it quickly. After asking "What should I photo, Mummy?" and receiving the reply "Anything that you think is beautiful, interesting, or silly! Anything you like!", we went for a walk. I now have snaps of the following, a window into the mind of a 3 year old boy. The tally is: 3 dead worm photos, 1 photo of dog poo, 4 trucks, 3 lamposts, 4 patches of nettles, 1 berberis berry, 1 of his sister (note she is less interesting than dead worms), 1 bike, 1 of a brick wall for "it is patterny", 1 of his new snowboots, and a staged shot of his sisters toy dog about to fall off a cliff. As well as being fun, and educational, it was really lovely to see him so engaged in his surroundings, and he has claimed the camera as his now. Interestingly, he clicked onto the zoom without being told, and preferred the viewfinder to liveshoot, so I am hopeful I may have a David Bailey who can support me in my old age.
So don't buy an expensive kid camera. Buy a real, cheap one, and let them click away. Look at life through your kids' lens.