If you’re after a new tablet for your child and don’t happen to have an old one kicking around, it can be tricky to work out what your best options are. When it comes to choosing a kids tablet, there are some key things to look out for in regards to technical specs to ensure you pick one that is tough, sturdy, resistant to sticky fingers and capable of running the latest apps.
Our guide to the best kids tablet will ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Are Tablets Good for Children?
There’s no denying that tablets are one of the greatest parenting inventions, even able to satisfy children with the tiniest attention spans for many hours, but is all that screen time good for your child?
Like most of the things we enjoy in life, moderation is key. A recent study of 4,500 US children by The Lancet found that limiting children’s screen time (around 2 hours a day) resulted in improved cognition, in areas such as language, memory and attention. These children performed better in general then children that indulged in more screen time throughout the day.
As well as moderation, it’s also important to balance your child’s activities, ensuring that they are also getting a good amount of physical activity throughout the day, something they’ll often do naturally through play.
As such, if you keep an eye on your child’s screen time and ensure they are still getting fresh air and a run around, then a tablet is a fantastic investment. Not only are they great for keeping your child entertained while you give the house a quick tidy or pay that bill you keep putting off, these days there are a huge range of educational apps and games available.
Can’t I Just Give My Child My Smartphone?
Tablets are generally regarded as being much better for children when compared to smartphones. They have bigger screens, making them better for watching videos and using apps / games in general. It’s also much easier to keep an eye on what your child is doing. As well as this, almost all of them lack cellular service, instead relying solely on WiFi. This means no unexpected data charges, and no further means of communication that you would need to keep an eye on. Plus, tablets are often much cheaper than smartphones!
Our Current Top Picks for Kids Tablets
What to Look for in a Kids Tablet?
One thing we want to stress is that, just because a tablet isn’t labelled as a kids’ version it doesn’t mean it isn’t good for kids. ‘Kids editions’ of tablets are on the whole good, but some are far too stripped back and will be outgrown very quickly.
Regardless, they are some key things to look out for. It’s easy to get sucked into technical specs such as the amount of RAM that’s required, or the screen resolution, but really you only need to worry about the below:
Battery Life 🔋
As mentioned previously, you should be keeping a close eye on the amount of time your little one is spending on the tablet, but overall battery life is still important, especially if you have some long car journeys planned. We’d recommend that you pickup a tablet that has 5 hours battery life as a bare minimum.
You don’t really need a super high resolution screen for a child’s tablet, but it should be a decent size if they’ll be streaming videos. 8″ is perfect for children aged between 6 and 10, anything larger than that and it may be cumbersome for them to hold and balance.
Kids download a lot of apps and games. Like, a lot. If left unchecked, they’ll easily fill up a tablet’s storage in no time at all as they flick through the available games and apps. As such, a good kids tablet needs to have decent internal storage size, ideally a 16GB minimum. However, try to get a tablet that has a MicroSD Card slot so you can greatly expand this for very little cost.
A lot of the games and apps your child will download aren’t very demanding, but you do want to make sure they can run them well. If your child does play more demanding games, like Roblox for example, it would be worth spending a bit more to ensure they run smoothly.
1. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet
The Best All-Round Kids Tablet
Key Specs: Colour 8″ HD Screen, 32GB Internal Storage (Expandable by up to 400GB), Quad-Core 1.3 GHz with 1.5 GB of RAM, 10 hour battery life, robust kid-proof case. $129.99 / £129.99
Amazon are annoyingly good at everything they do, and the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is no exception. While it isn’t the most powerful kids tablet available, it ticks almost all of the boxes while maintaining a realistic and affordable price.
It’s ideal for watching Netflix/YouTube Kids and can handle most games and apps that your child will throw at it, coupled with a 10 hour battery life. It runs on Amazon’s own Fire OS, but it’s essentially an Android tablet and you can, if you so desire, install the normal Google Play store on it (which is simple to do but we recommend Googling for a guide).
It’s 32GB internal storage should be more than enough for even the most voracious game/app downloader, and it also supports up to 400GB of expandable storage through a micro SD card. We’d recommend getting an SD card if your tablet will be used by multiple children as Fire OS supports multiple child profiles so they can each have their own space.
The Fire HD 8 comes with some pretty intuitive parental controls, with a child’s profile having it’s own bespoke and simple interface. Parents can choose to disable features (browser, camera etc.), limit time spent on non-educational apps, and also disables ads and location data. It’s very easy to setup, with good default settings meaning it’s pretty much ready to go right out of the box. One nifty feature is the ability to reward your children for their times spent reading and using educational apps, by allowing them to earn time that can be spent on playing games.
The tablet itself is very sturdy mostly thanks to it’s chunky foam case, but you don’t have to worry as much about the tablet getting damaged thanks to Amazon’s 2-year no fuss warranty. If the tablet breaks, even as a result of it being dropped, or milk being split on it, Amazon will give you a brand new one no questions asked. All you have to do is return the broken one to them, which is pretty painless these days. We’ve had to return our Fire HD 8 once so far due to my daughter being overly forceful with the charging cable, and we were back up and running with a brand new tablet in no time.
Price wise, the Fire HD 8 Kids Editionis very reasonable and will set you back $129.99 / £129.99. With this you also get 1 year’s membership to Fire Unlimited for Kids, which has more than 5,000 videos, apps, games and books. It usually costs $2.99 / £1.99 per month and will renew automatically at the end of the free year, but you can cancel this whenever you fancy.
2. Apple iPad (32GB)
The Best Higher-End Option
Key Specs: 9.7″ Retina display, 32GB Internal Storage (NOT expandable), A10 Fusion chip with 2GB RAM, 10 hour battery life. $329 / £299
The Apple iPad has dominated the scene for years, but you wouldn’t necessarily associate it with being a tablet for children, mainly because of the price (no accidental damage warranty here!). However, there’s no denying that the iPad is overall a smooth and intuitive experience, with plenty of processing power. It’s generally the best tablet there is on the market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to get one for your child.
The 6th gen Apple iPad is considerably more expensive than the alternatives, especially when you consider that if your child breaks it Apple wont replace it for free like Amazon does with the Fire HD 8. However, if you’re fortunate enough to not be concerned by cost then the Apple iPad is also considerable better than the alternatives.
The available apps and games on the Apple App Store is huge, dwarfing the offering that Amazon have. You can install Google Play on the Fire HD 8 but it requires a bit of technical know how, whereas the iPad is ready to go right out of the box. Coupled with it’s processing power it will be able to handle even the most demanding mobile games and apps, kids will find the iPad pretty effortless to use.
Apple have also upped their game in regards to parental controls, with the introduction of family sharing Apple IDs. This offers more protection around what your child can (or can’t!) buy, allows you to set screen-time limits and more. Your child can also ask for permission if they’re after more things such as screen-time, which you can accept or deny at your discretion (all from your own iPhone, if you have one).
On the subject of screen-time, the iPad boasts a 9.7″ retina display, which would suit your child if they are heavily into their YouTube Kids or Netflix. The downside to this is that there’s a bigger area to be broken, and we would strongly recommend that you invest in a durable case AND screen protector if you opt for the iPad.
As mentioned, you do pay a premium for the iPad, though. At the time of writing the 32GB version (which should be enough but is NOT expandable like the Fire HD 8) is around $319 / £315. If you have a younger child, or a child prone to breaking things, you might want to go for the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition.
3. LeapFrog LeapPad 3
The Best Tablet for Younger Children
Key Specs: Colour 5″ (Non-HD) Screen, 4GB Internal Storage, Quad-Core 1.0 GHz Processor, 6 hour battery life, sturdy and shatter-proof. $116.00 / £160.99
The above tablets are generally regarded as the best for children aged 5 and above, but if you’re looking for a tablet for a younger child it’s best to ease them in with something easier.
The LeapPad range by LeapFrog is very easy for younger children to get used to, and while it’s generally slower than the other tablets mentioned, the games are built from the ground up for the LeapPad range, thus run very well. The screen is slightly smaller at 5″, meaning it’s much easier for smaller hands to handle, and it’s also shatter-proof which is an often overlooked safety feature. The entire unit is very sturdy and built for punishment, featuring a shock-absorbing frame, which is perfect for those who haven’t quite learnt how fragile tech can be.
The LeapPad 3 runs on it’s own operating system as opposed to Android or iOS, and boasts over 1,000 educational games and apps, though you do have to purchase the majority of these. It’s not quite as fancy or intuitive as the aforementioned operating systems, but it’s perfect for kids and still has very in-depth parental controls.
While it does feature Wi-Fi, which allows you to download more games and apps, it’s a completely closed web environment that is 100% kid-safe, no matter what options they tinker with. This is a major advantage over the other tablets, as everything on this closed web environment is prescreened by LeapFrog learning experts.
The battery life is an acceptable 6 or so hours, though the 4GB storage is a tad on the small side, but easily manageable if you keep an eye on how many apps are installed, and remove apps that are no longer in use.
The LeapFrog LeapPad 3 is the cheapest tablet in the post, costing around $116.00 / £160.99 at the time of writing, but should last a 3 or 4 year old a couple of years before their ready for one of the ‘big kid’ tablets mentioned above.