Recently after several minutes of begging, I handed my son my digital camera (probably not the smartest thing I did that day). I was somewhat amazed at how quickly with minimal instruction, he set off to point and shoot. He really loved looking for just the right shot, it seemed to come naturally to him.
He took the photos in this post, remember he is only four (granted I'm showing you the best of the lot).
Now he wants a camera of his own. I have looked at some cameras designed for kids and they seem over priced for what they are. I'd be better off just buying a $25-$50 no frills regular digital camera. Maybe for his birthday this year.
While researching the question, I found Children as Photographers, according to their site:
Children as Photographers is a large-scale research project looking at how and why children take photographs. Undertaken jointly by the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, the University of Birmingham and Kodak, the project features the photographs of 180 children from five European countries - and their comments about their work. This website aims to address every possible audience for the project, and functions at the same time as an academic resource; a huge (and fun) photo album; and a unique insight into the world of children.
They have listed their findings and it seems that children like to take photos for many of the same reasons adults do. The project focused on three age groups: seven, eleven and fifteen year-olds. This paragraph sums up the differences found between the age groups:
There are cultural and artistic precedents for speculating that children might use photography as a way of defining their world and affirming their control over important aspects of it. Consistent with this notion, we found that 7 year-olds took photographs of arrangements of their family members, toys, physical possessions, or of their home. In contrast, 11-year-olds took more photographs of the external world around them and of their pets, often posed or dressed in silly clothes. Finally, the distinctive feature of photography in 15-year-olds was that it was an interactive social activity, with many of the pictures selected showing groups of friends actively responding to the camera.
They also have a gallery of the participants photos to view. Go have a look, I was impressed with the amount of researched they had done. It must have been a terrifically fun project to be involved with!