Looking for a camera for my six year old. We have one of the V-Tech child cameras, which he loves, but the pictures it takes are amazingly awful. Basically I am looking for a rugged point-and-shoot.
The Olympus Tough-8010 is the most indestructible camera there is. It is point and shoot, shockproof, drop-proof, waterproof and freezeproof. My baby even managed to take a picture of herself with the predecessor model (Tough-8000) after biting it for a few minutes! Here's a funny commercial for an older model, it gives you an idea of the 'tough' part.
It will really depend on how mature your kid is. Even at 6 some kids could be trusted with a full SLR setup. I was. Thats why I am doing what I do today. If the kid is good with their toys, do not be afraid to get them something with a bit more bang. I bought 2 Canon PowerShot 1300s for my niece and nephew that are not much older. Its a great hobby for them when they travel to document the trip. If they get broken, it can be replaced. But so far the kids have taken good care of their cameras.
I simply got a refurbished older model point and shoot for my 5 year old. The pictures aren't great, but they're worlds better than the V-Tech camera quality. For a little less than $50, it's not quite expendable, but it is replaceable, and she's been very responsible with it. It's been a year, and it's still working.
I know this is an old question but I wanted to add one aspect that hasn't been touched on in the above.
Consider how accessible the controls (and other stuff) are to the child. Children develop so-called "fine motor skills" at different ages and some of the controls on cameras can be very fiddly. I have an old Kodak Easyshare which I let my eldest (7yrs) use, but the mode-select method is via a manual dial which is very hard for him to turn correctly.
Also, his vision is not 100% so the size of the screen makes a significant difference for him.
I think the Recesky Twin Lens camera is a great option.
It is a plastic film camera. I built it with my little son. It does not need batteries to operate. My son can learn how the focus, aperture and shutter works. He could see the image shown on the top of the camera. We learn a lot about optics and physics by the simple handy toy.
See how we built it - http://daddiest.com/model-camera-diy-with-kids/
Samples of the photos taken.