I know I'm late coming to the discussion, but my daughter got a PRS-500 when she was 11. As soon as the 505 was released, she got one of those. She's almost 14 now, and she's had that 505 for more than 1.5 years. She loves reading, so she's very careful of her reader. We did get her an eCaddy for the 505. Amazon has them http://www.amazon.com/eCaddy-Hardshe...194324&sr=8-10
I think young kids can handle electronics if they are taught to treat them properly. She's had hand-me-down pdas since she was five. The only person in this house who ever broke a screen was her dad.