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The problem with parents choosing a tech gift for a new graduate is that often the kids know more than the parents.

Today’s children are “digital natives,” a term educational software designer Marc Prensky uses to describe people who have always known computers, the Internet, e-mail and cell phones.

This group is also referred to as the “Millennials,” those born between 1982 and 2000. And in a matter of weeks, many of the “Millennials” will acquire the title of “graduates.”

While scholars create new sociological terms to describe our youth, parents must decide which, if any, technology gifts to present their newly minted graduate.

For technology review advice, Stripes turned to CNET.com, a popular technology review and news site. Although CNET is launching its own gift guide Monday, (http://dads.cnet.com and http://grads.cnet.com), they agreed to give some pointers to Stars and Stripes’ readers.

“Whether a graduate is going to college or getting a job, there are three tech essentials that every young adult should have: a laptop, a cell phone, and an MP3 player,” said Julie Wildhaber, executive editor at CNET.com, in an e-mail response.

laptop computer

Will help manage schedulesKeep in touch via e-mail and IMTake notes in classEntertain themselvesCNET.com recommends the HP Pavilion tx1000us, an entertainment-friendly notebook with a tablet-style, fold-back design that’s handy at a desk or other tight spaces. It’s reasonably priced, too. If your grad is heading to college, you might want to check the university Web site to make sure you have all the right connectivity options, and you’ll want to test-drive the computer with your grad.

cell phone

Keep in touch with friends and familyCall in the event of an emergencyOften comes with many featuresEvery concerned parent can appreciate the importance of a cell phone.CNET.com likes the Nokia 5300, a user-friendly phone with lots of features, including a camera and a music player, for just $99 with service. Of course, the Apple iPhone will be out soon, and will likely one of the hottest gadgets this year.

MP3 player

The compact, go-everywhere entertainment centerOften video enabledWith a video iPod, your grad can have music and videos in their room, in their car, wherever they go. It might help them study, too: colleges are starting to offer lectures via podcast. UC Berkeley, for example, has 35 courses in its spring 2007 lineup.

Finally, the “piece de resistance” of graduation gifts:

a new car

If you’re feeling exceptionally generous, you can spring for a car. The 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid is a good option — fuel-efficient to keep those gas bills down, and featuring a built-in iPod interface.

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