So maybe the coolest digital camera to us isn't quite as cool to teens. That's okay, because many inexpensive digital cameras come with the features and design that teens will dig. Make sure you don't blow it at Christmas--get the best digital camera for your teen.
Figure them out. I know, that's impossible, but at least figure out how tech-savvy and artistically inclined they are. What are their computer habits? Do they understand terms and how to tweak PCs or do they stick to more user friendly stuff? Do they decorate like Andy Warhol or like Martha Stewart?
Consider how the camera looks. Some teens use cameras to accessorize--how they look could be more important than how they perform. Pick one that has a sleek design and a color he or she likes.
Size matters. They'll probably want to tote it around with them when they go out, so don't get them the gigantic safari cam with detachable flash. Portability trumps features. Opt for the model that has a keychain or lanyard. Get something that can slip into a pocket or a purse like a cellphone.
Go for fun features. Video with audio is definitely a plus. Webcam compatibility or being able to hook up directly to a printer are nice features as well.
Look into bundled software. Few teens are content to share their photos as-is. Many cameras come with some editing software that lets them tinker around with their digital pictures.
Don't worry about user-friendliness. You might not be able to figure out how to work the thing, but chances are your kid can, especially if she has other gadgets as well.
If you can find a cellphone or PDA with a built-in camera, even better! Although the quality on these tend to be a bit lower. Warranties are a good idea if they are available. Don't worry too much about performance. Teens tend to share photos online more than they print them. 3 Megapixels is plenty.
Don't spend too much. You might be amazed at how many situations your teen can get into that are hazardous to cameras. Also, it doesn't help that the coolest cameras are also tiny enough to lose easily.